White House: 'We will work with Congress to get this done'

The White House said Thursday night that administration officials would continue to seek a compromise debt deal with congressional Republicans after a vote on Speaker John Boehner's (R-Ohio) "Plan B" tax proposal was pulled after GOP leadership could not rally enough votes.


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"The President’s main priority is to ensure that taxes don’t go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days," said White House press secretary Jay Carney in a statement. "The President will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy."

Republicans had introduced "Plan B," which would have made permanent the Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes under $1 million — but left spending cuts and a debt ceiling increase unresolved — in a bid for more leverage in their negotiations with President Obama.

But pulling the bill represented a major defeat for Republicans, and suggests that Boehner will likely need a significant number of Democratic votes to get an eventual debt deal through the House of Representatives. That realization will likely decrease pressure on the White House to offer significant additional concessions as talks continue.

After caucusing with Republicans Thursday night, Boehner said it was now up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Obama to find a way to avert tax hikes and spending cuts set to be triggered in January that economists warn could start a recession.

The statement from Carney struck a reconciliatory tone, especially relative to comments Carney made at a press briefing earlier in the day. Then, the press secretary blasted "Plan B" as "a multi-day exercise in futility at a time when we do not have the luxury of exercises in futility."

"Instead of taking the opportunity that was presented to them to continue to negotiate what could be a very helpful, large deal for the American people, the Republicans in the House have decided to run down an alley that has no exit while we all watch," Carney said. "And again, it’s something we've seen in the past that produces nothing positive except perhaps copy for Hill reporters; and does not bring us any closer to resolution of either the fiscal cliff or our deficit issues, challenges; and does not help the cause of trying to find a compromise."

In addition to attempting to reopen negotiations with Republicans, the White House's offer to work with Congress is likely intended as a calming signal to financial markets. After the announcement that the Republican plan had failed and that the House was adjourning until after the Christmas holiday, Down Jones Industrial futures began a steep fall.

The White House would not say Thursday whether President Obama would cancel a planned trip to Hawaii for the Christmas holiday to continue negotiations in Washington. Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks at the funeral service for the late Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on Friday, but has no other public events.