I guess it’s time House Speaker John Boehner — who will go down in political history as one of the most ineffective Speakers ever — to turn to Plan C. Because Plan B has failed — among Republicans. It is dead in the conceceptual womb:
House Speaker John Boehner’s proposal to avert the looming fiscal cliff’s automatic tax increases has failed to get enough Republican support, throwing yet another monkey wrench into the contentious debate.
Boehner said earlier Thursday that he was confident that his so-called Plan B — which would extend tax cuts that are set to expire at year’s end for most people while allowing rates to increase to 1990s levels on income over $1 million — would pass the House, and in the process put pressure on President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate. But that gambit seemed in doubt Thursday, as Republican leaders struggled to get all their members to sign on, knowing the chamber’s Democrats oppose it.
GOP leaders could be seen working the House floor earlier Thursday, trying to convince their party colleagues. Sen. Rob Portman was one of them, telling reporters that he and other Republican senators had been asked to come over and make their pitch.
Around 8 p.m., House Majority Leader Eric Cantor announced that the measure would not go up for a vote as planned. His office later said legislative business was finished for the week and could return to work after Christmas if needed.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said in a statement. “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator (Harry) Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff.”
Democratic leaders already had signaled they oppose the so-called Plan B.
What this means next in the fiscal cliff talks is unclear. From here, scenarios range from intensified and ultimately successful talks in the coming days or entrenchment as the fiscal cliff becomes a reality next year, when a new Congress could enter negotiations with Obama.
The failure to bring the measure to a vote marks a setback for Boehner, who was unable to marshal enough of his fractious, Tea Party-inspired members. Meanwhile, the nation moves closer to the so-called fiscal cliff, after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declared earlier Thursday that the Senate will recess Friday until two days after Christmas.
That would leave less than five full days to find a way around the cliff, which Congress itself created by mandating in last year’s debt-ceiling agreement that some $1 trillion in budget cuts start kicking in after Jan. 1. That’s also when Congress has mandated that all of the Bush-era tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 expire.
Boehner’s bill aimed to keep all the tax cuts for those earning less than $1 million a year — a scheme similar to what Democrats had backed two years ago, when they were unable to get the GOP to budge at all on taxes.
Democrats opposed Boehner’s plan because it did not include many provisions that were included in their version. They argued that the Plan B bill would end some tax cuts for the middle class — worth on average about $1,000 a year — while it actually preserved some tax breaks for millionaires worth approximately $50,000. On top that, Democrats campaigned — and won — on keeping taxes lower for those with incomes of less than $250,000.
The House did pass one part of Boehner’s fallback — a bill to cut spending by $200 billion, mostly by slashing domestic programs, including favorite GOP targets such as health care and food stamps.
But that has as much chance as passing as Boehner has of convincing GOPers to go along with a Grand Bargain that includes significant Republican compromises with Obama.
Here’s some of what Red State’s Eric Ericson wrote earlier today, urging readers to his conservative website to make sure the bill is defeated:
Later today, the House of Representatives will vote on a major tax increase. This disastrous idea is being pushed by Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor and will do nothing other than put Republicans on record supporting tax increases that should be the sole responsibility of President Obama. Fortunately, groups like Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America are opposing the bill.
The good news is it looks right now like conservatives will succeed in defeating this bill. Based on the best intelligence I’ve been able to gather there are 34 Republicans who will vote against raising taxes and 12 others still thinking about it. Please call the good guys up and urge them to stay strong and resist the pressure from the leadership team to cave. And call the members on the fence and urge them to stick with their conservative principles and oppose the tax hike.
The Daily Kos’ Joan McCarter’s post has the headline: “Boehner loses. Massively.” She wrote:
This isn’t just a massive, incredible, insanely embarrassing loss for Boehner. It’s all of those things. It wasn’t just losing a vote by a hair. It was totally having to abandon his strategy. And in the process, being completely neutered. The House is in utter shambles.
But it’s also a total reset for President Obama. He can take that last, bad offer completely off the table. Go over the cliff, and come back after the new year with tax cuts for the middle class.
If Boehner remains as Speaker, his image with conservatives (who hate his compromises using the 21st century word “cave” as those on the right and left like to do) is terrible, his image in the media will be of a Speaker who is not really a leader because his members don’t listen to him, and political historians will…see the first sentence in this post above..