- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Concerned that the “fiscal cliff” negotiations with President Obama will not bear any fruit, House Speaker John A. Boehner said Tuesday the House GOP is prepared with a “Plan B” option that calls for higher taxes on millionaires and locks in current tax rates for everyone else.

Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said he would put his proposal up for a vote in the House later this week as a way of demonstrating the GOP wants to “protect as many American taxpayers as we can” from tax increases, even as he tries to negotiate with Mr. Obama on a broader deal with spending cuts.

The move borrows from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who earlier this year proposed the $1 million threshold for tax increases — much higher than the $250,000 level Mr. Obama had wanted.

“Our ‘Plan B’ would protect American taxpayers making a million dollars or less and would have all of their current rates extended,” Mr. Boehner told reporters at a press conference. “I continue to have hope that we can reach a broader agreement with the White House that would reduce spending as well as have revenues on the table.”

But Democrats rejected the plan.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer said Mrs. Pelosi’s $1 million plan was only a “ploy,” and Mrs. Pelosi now said she was only trying “to smoke out the Republicans’ true position” back then.

“Republicans said ‘no’ six months ago; the president took his case to the American people to use $250,000 as a threshold for higher tax rates, and the public supported him,” she said.

Republicans said Democrats continue to move the goalposts. Since the election, Mr. Boehner has offered an $800 billion tax increase plan that was similar to one Mr. Obama supported last year; he offered one he said was based on testimony by Erskine Bowles, chairman of Mr. Obama’s 2010 deficit commission; and he has offered the Pelosi $1 million plan, which mirrors one offered by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, in 2010.

Each of those has been rejected by Democrats, who said the intervening election has boosted Mr. Obama’s hand.

“Republicans should’ve taken Senator Schumer’s offer two years ago when they had the chance,” said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer. “We’ve had an election on the president’s tax plan, the president won, and Republicans can’t turn the clock back.”

The back-and-forth comes even as Mr. Boehner and Mr. Obama had appeared to be moving toward the outlines of a deal — though whether that deal could pass either chamber of Congress was still up in the air.

The two men met for 45-minutes at the White House on Monday — their third discussion in less than a week — where Mr. Obama backed off his push to raise taxes on families making $250,000 a year or more — instead calling for taxes to go up on those households making $400,000 or more.

He also agreed to reduce future cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries.

Mr. Boehner, meanwhile, has moved substantially from his pre-election position that no taxes should be raised.

He now supports $1 trillion in tax increases, including a jump in marginal income tax rates — another line in the sand that he drew but has now erased.

The latest Boehner offer called for $1 trillion in new revenue — through tax hikes on millionaires and eliminating loopholes and deductions in the tax code — and $1 trillion in spending cuts, as well as for an increase in the nation’s borrowing limit, which now sits at $16.4 trillion.

Before addressing reporters on Tuesday, Mr. Boehner told his caucus that the president’s plan is not balanced when it comes to taxes and spending.

“What the White House offered yesterday — $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $850 billion in spending cuts — cannot be considered balanced,” Mr. Boehner said.

The speaker told reporters and insisted during his meeting with his caucus that the proposal he delivered to the White House late last week is the “definition of balance.”

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