Obama ‘not willing to accept’ Boehner’s backup plan on taxes

The White House on Tuesday said President Obama "is not willing to accept" Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Are maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East MORE’s “Plan B” to avoid the fiscal cliff.

BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Are maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East MORE (R-Ohio) on Tuesday announced the House would vote on legislation to extend tax rates on income below $1 million as a backup plan in case his talks with Obama fail.

The White House rejected Boehner’s proposal, saying it "doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors."

"The Speaker’s ‘Plan B’ approach doesn’t meet this test because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle-class families, and does little to address our fiscal challenges with zero spending cuts," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Tuesday.


Boehner’s backup bill, which he introduced to the GOP conference in a meeting on Tuesday morning, would preserve the Bush-era tax rates on income up to $1 million. It would not address the automatic spending cuts set to trigger at the end of the year, and would push other questions, from unemployment benefits to entitlement reform, into the next Congress.

Boehner’s office said Obama’s rejection of the plan “defies common sense.”

“After spending months saying we must ask for more from millionaires and billionaires, how can they reject a plan that does exactly that? By once again moving the goal posts, the president is threatening every American family with higher taxes,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck.

House Democratic leaders said they would rally their members against Boehner's bill, forcing Republicans to come up with the votes to pass it on their own.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidBiden fails to break GOP 'fever' Nevada governor signs law making state first presidential primary Infighting grips Nevada Democrats ahead of midterms MORE said the plan "cannot pass" and accused Boehner of attempting to "kick the can down the road."

Boehner said he still believes a "fiscal cliff" deal can still be reached.

"I continue to have hope we can reach a broader agreement with the White House that will reduce spending and put revenues on the table," Boehner said. "I think it would be better for our country, but at this point having a back up plan to make sure as few American taxpayers are affected by this as possible and moving down that path is the right course of action for us."

The Republican leadership rejected an offer from the president on Monday that would have included $1.2 trillion in new revenues and $1.22 trillion in spending reductions, according to the White House. The plan would reduce the rate at which Social Security and other federal benefits grew annually, and preserve the Bush-era tax cuts on income less than $400,000.

But Republicans say that the White House is including interest savings in calculating their total spending cuts, and by the GOP's math, only offering $850 billion in spending cuts. 

"We don't have a balanced plan, when the president is asking for $1.3 trillion dollars in revenue and $850 billion in cuts over 10 years," Boehner said.

In his statement Tuesday, Carney described Obama’s offer as "a balanced, reasonable proposal on the table that achieves significant deficit reduction and reflects real compromise."

"That is the essence of compromise," Carney continued. "The parameters of a deal are clear, and the president is willing to continue to work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, protects the middle class, helps the economy, and puts our nation on a fiscally sustainable path."

— This story was updated at 12:07 p.m.