- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
- U.N. warns of Muslim ‘cleansing’ in Central African Republic
- Senate blocks change to military sex assault cases
- Drug mix may have cured child born with HIV, doctors say
- De Blasio’s wife irks former mansion chef with ‘servant’ remark
- Russia’s neighbors shiver amid Putin’s Cold War moves in Ukraine
- New SAT: The essay portion is to become optional
- Military group can’t march to honor the fallen at Boston Marathon due to security changes
- Senate passes bills deleting ‘retarded’ from laws
- China announces biggest military hike in 3 years: We are not ‘boy scouts with spears’
LAMBRO: Passing grade for ‘Plan B’
Boehner proposal would prevent ‘fiscal cliff’ downfall
Just when it seemed Mr. Boehner and President Obama were nearing a deal, the speaker changed course, voicing doubts a full package could be worked out before the Jan. 1 deadline.
That’s when a combustible combination of higher taxes and sweeping, automatic defense and domestic spending cuts will send the economy into a recession, economists say.
Mr. Boehner’s 11th-hour rescue plan would permanently extend virtually all of the tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush for all households with income less than $1 million. That would include reining in the punishing alternative minimum tax and retaining the lower tax rate on inherited estates.
“I believe it’s important we protect as many American taxpayers as we can. And our Plan B would protect American taxpayers who make $1 million or less and have all of their current rates extended,” Mr. Boehner told reporters after closed-door meetings with his House GOP caucus.
Was this an insurance-policy move by Mr. Boehner and his leaders to blunt a likely White House offensive that would blame Republicans if a compromise weren’t reached before year’s end? Or was it a daring move to demonstrate his political strength in the GOP House to extract deeper concessions from Mr. Obama?
To many House Republican veterans who have fought over countless negotiated legislative deals before, Mr. Boehner was playing both strategies at once.
It was a high-wire act by a cunning legislative strategist who has gone toe to toe with Mr. Obama many times before only to walk away from a deal his party could not accept. He thinks a deal still can be worked out but that the White House needs to be convinced that only a tougher package can win House passage — one with no increase in tax rates below $1 million at a time when the economy remains sluggish and full-time jobs are in short supply.
Mr. Boehner pulled out his backup plan at midweek after both sides had moved the needle toward a deal. Then the talks stalled over deeper spending cuts the speaker sought and other complicated tax matters. GOP leaders feared there was little or no time to construct a full-blown trillion-dollar-plus deal over a raft of fiendishly complex issues that cannot be fully resolved in less than 12 days.
Ordinarily, fiscal fights take months to wind their way through a fierce gantlet of committees, subcommittees, countless votes and endless conference-committee dealing before a bill reaches the floor for final passage.
In this case, the White House was attempting to bypass much of that process in the belief it could bully Republicans into caving in for fear of suffering the public’s wrath against the wave of higher taxes that would result if no agreement were reached. This has been Mr. Boehner’s fear from the beginning of the negotiations.
By midweek, he was preparing to play the tactical card he had hidden up his sleeve: House Republicans would show their resolve and make the expiring Bush tax cuts permanent, avoid the worst of the fiscal cliff and postpone action on spending. Then they would send the bill to the Senate, daring the Democrats to kill it and push the economy over the edge.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the bill could not pass the Senate and swore to block its consideration. The White House, caught off-guard, called it a non-starter. The talks clearly have stalled.
As many as 10 House conservatives opposed the bill’s top tax-rate increase on millionaires. The Heritage Foundation also opposed the bill on those grounds, but Grover Norquist, the hard-core anti-tax crusader, supported Plan B, saying it didn’t violate his anti-tax pledge, which almost all GOP lawmakers signed.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
By Tammy Bruce
Get Breaking Alerts
- Aronofsky's 'Noah' banned in Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Putin has transformed Russian army into a lean, mean fighting machine
- Bill Clinton cashes in on nonprofit hospital
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- Back to the Future: HUVr Tech marketing video goes viral with hoverboard release tease
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- DELAY: A revolution for the Constitution
- Russian lawmaker wants to outlaw U.S. dollar, calls it a Ponzi scheme
- Obama goes from lame to laughable in just one week
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Turkey not committed to Cyprus peace
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama's flawed Mideast 'peace' plan
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Foreign policy would distract Obama from social hour
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Hit Putin where it hurts over Ukraine