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Will GOP's 'Plan B' push Obama closer to 'fiscal cliff' deal?

House Republican leaders hope to pass their own 'fiscal cliff' bill Thursday. But Obama and Senate Democrats are solidly against the plan, which could leave the sides no nearer a deal. 

By Staff writer / December 20, 2012

House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia, speaking at a press briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, tells reporters that House Republicans have enough votes to pass their 'Plan B' alternative package of tax increases on income above $1 million.

Yuri Gripas/Reuters

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WASHINGTON

With less than a week to go before Christmas, talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio show no public signs of progress as the House moves toward its own response to the so-called “fiscal cliff” on Thursday evening.

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Part 1 of that response is a bill known called “Plan B” by Speaker Boehner, a measure that would permanently extend income tax rates for American households making under $1 million per year, alongside permanent fixes for capital gains, dividends, the estate tax, and the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), among other measures.

That’s been coupled with another vote on a fix for the budget-cutting sequester that's been salted with other Republican priorities, including repealing parts of Mr. Obama's signature health-care law and financial regulatory reform scheme. The House passed the measure that would replace the sequester, some $109 billion in automatic spending reductions scheduled to begin Jan. 1, in the spring. But the same idea has been added to the mix on Thursday in order to provide cover for conservatives who noted that the first part of Plan B involved no spending cuts.

This bill, which Senate Democrats promise will be dead on arrival and which the White House has promised to veto, is seen by Republicans as a way to pressure Obama at the negotiating table to give more on spending cuts.

“We also realize that the president’s unwillingness or inability to come to a balanced agreement with our speaker presents us with very little option other than to try and work hard to avoid a tax hike on so many millions of Americans,” said House majority leader Eric Cantor (R) of Virginia at a morning news conference.

Likewise, Republicans in the Senate, who have been largely shut out of the talks to date, can now join the fray by calling for the Senate to bring up the House bill.

“You’ve got one chance to put your money where your mouth is – and that’s by voting on the bill the House sends over today. It will be up to the majority leader to act,” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) of Kentucky said on the Senate floor Thursday. “Will the Senate just sit back and watch the tax rates go up or will the Senate act?”

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