Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) proposed a "plan B" to avoid the "fiscal cliff" in the event that negotiations with President Barack Obama fall through. Plan B would increase taxes on taxable income above $1 million while preventing taxes from going up below that amount. While the Republican plan seeks to protect the middle class from tax increases, Democrats said the plan will not work because they will not vote for it.
While Senate Democrats have threatened to not pass the measure, if it is the only bill that the House passes, those Democrats would be put in the position of either passing a bill that increases taxes only on millionaires or letting taxes go up on everyone. Boehner calculates that it would be difficult to maintain that position after an election season in which Democrats repeatedly accused Republicans of wanting to give tax breaks to "millionaires and billionaires."
White House spokesperson Jay Carney released a statement Tuesday rejecting Boehner's plan B. The plan would not protect the middle class, Carney explained, because Democrats would not vote for it.
"The Speaker's 'Plan B' approach doesn't meet this test [of balance] 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," Carney said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reiterated that position later the same day.
"Speaker Boehner's plan B is the farthest thing from a balanced approach. It will not protect middle class families because it cannot pass both Houses of Congress," Reid said.
The Senate has already passed a bill that would let taxes increase for taxable income above $250,000 and preserve current tax rates for everyone else. That plan is the only true plan B, Reid argued, because it was passed by the Senate.
"The Senate bill is the only plan B that can be signed into law and prevent taxes from rising by $2,200 on the average middle-class family," he said.
On Fox News' "Special Report," conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer mocked Democrats for saying that the plan will not work because they will not vote for it.
"Think about that, how idiotic it is," Krauthammer said. "Obviously, demonstrably and irrefutably, it protects the middle class because it protects everybody up to a million dollars. But [Carney]'s saying it can't protect the middle class because Democrats will reject it, which will not enable it to protect the middle class. I don't know what Carney is being paid, but it really isn't enough, if you have to say stuff like that."
Boehner held a closed door session with House Republicans Tuesday afternoon and hopes to vote on the bill by Thursday.
Boehner's press secretary, Michael Steel, indicated that the goal of the plan is to put the onus back on Democrats to prevent the fiscal cliff.
"For years, Washington Democrats -- led by Sen. [Chuck] Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi -- have been calling for a bill to stop the tax hikes except on millionaires. They even voted in favor of it. To oppose it now would make them entirely responsible for the tax hikes that tens of millions of Americans face in less than two weeks. They know that, and the President knows that," Steel said.