John Boehner's fiscal 'Plan B': What is it for and can it pass?
With a 'fiscal cliff' deal appearing closer than ever, Boehner offered up a fallback 'Plan B.' It seems designed to make Democrats uncomfortable and provide cover for Republicans ... if they pass it.
(Page 3 of 3)
However, the vote on Thursday would not deal with the "sequester," or $109 billion in spending reductions divided between the Defense Department and discretionary spending, according to Boehner.
That would, if the speaker could muster the Republican votes to pass it, put the GOP in the position so often claimed by Democrats (and, indeed, claimed by Mrs. Pelosi in a letter to the speaker several months ago) of favoring tax rate increases on millionaires instead of across-the-board rate increases that would occur if Congress fails to act.
House Democratic leaders, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi and whip Steny Hoyer, oppose the measure, Congressman Hoyer said Tuesday, and the leaders would push their members to vote against such a move.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said the speaker’s fallback plan would not, in fact, protect anyone because it could not pass the Senate.
“Speaker Boehner’s ‘Plan B’ is the farthest thing from a balanced approach,” Senator Reid said in an e-mailed statement. “It will not protect middle-class families because it cannot pass both Houses of Congress.”
But with 53 Senate Democrats having already voted for just such a tax increase, Republicans appear eager to claim that after 20 years of opposing tax increases of any sort, they were willing to compromise to avoid the fiscal cliff – and Democrats were not.
“For years, Washington Democrats – led by Sen. Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi – have been calling for a bill to stop the tax hikes except on millionaires,” Mr. Steel said. “They even voted in favor of it. To oppose it now would make them entirely responsible for the tax hikes that tens of millions of Americans face in less than two weeks. They know that, and the President knows that.”
Democrats weren’t exactly in the dark about Boehner’s political positioning.
“I think it’s a political ploy to give [Boehner’s] members some way to respond to the public that thinks all the Republicans are doing is protecting the wealthy,” Hoyer said.
Democrats who previously supported the measure, like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) of New York, said Republicans would have been wise to take them up on the measure when it was originally offered.
"Republicans should've taken Senator Schumer's offer two years ago when they had the chance," said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the New York Democrat. "We've had an election on the president's tax plan, the president won, and Republicans can't turn the clock back. It's not surprising Republicans are having buyer's remorse, but we need higher revenues now."
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But with both the speaker and the president still committed to negotiations, a key question hanging over the House as Christmas approaches is whether the Republicans can muster the votes necessary to pass a tax hike without Democratic support.
“The speaker laid out the plan in a compelling way,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R) of Arizona. “And there’s a lot of hard thinking going on.”