The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

December 18, 2012

Cliff talks hit a lull with Boehner's 'Plan B'

(Continued)

Though Obama spokesman Jay Carney had nothing good to say about Boehner's new option, he said, "The president is willing to continue to work with Republicans" toward a broader agreement.

The narrower Plan B faced plenty of opposition. Democrats announced they would oppose it, and many conservative Republicans continued to resist any vote that might be interpreted as raising taxes. Republicans were refining the measure Tuesday in hopes of building support among the GOP rank and file, but passing the measure exclusively with GOP votes could prove difficult.

"I think it's a terrible idea," said Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. "For a lot of reasons."

Democrats said Boehner's move made it clear he was abandoning efforts to reach an agreement with Obama — much as he quit talks with Obama 18 months ago.

"Plan B is yet another example of House Republicans walking away from negotiations," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., top Democrat on the Budget Committee.

Boehner, however, said Obama is the one proving to be too inflexible, even as he held out hope that talks with Obama might yet bear fruit.

"He talked about a 'balanced' approach on the campaign trail," Boehner said. "What the White House offered yesterday — $1.3 trillion in revenue for only $850 billion in spending cuts — cannot be considered balanced."

Just Monday, the Capitol bristled with optimism that Boehner and Obama might strike a bargain.

In a new offer, Obama dropped his long-held insistence that taxes rise on individuals earning more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000. He is now offering a new threshold of $400,000 and lowering his 10-year tax revenue goals from the $1.6 trillion he originally sought.

The new Obama plan seeks $1.2 trillion in revenue over 10 years and $1.2 trillion in 10-year spending reductions. Boehner aides say the revenue is closer to $1.3 trillion if revenue triggered by a new inflation index is counted, and they say the spending reductions are closer to $930 billion if one discounts about $290 billion in lower estimated debt interest.

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