A senior White House aide said Wednesday morning that President Obama would veto House Speaker John Boehner's so-called "Plan B" proposal.(Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)
WASHINGTON -- President Obama said Wednesday he and House Republicans
led by Speaker John Boehner are separated by "probably a few hundred
billion dollars" on the fiscal cliff talks, while expressing frustration
that they have been unable to hatch a deal yet on the looming fiscal
"Any objective person ... would say we've put forward a
very balanced plan," the president told reporters on Wednesday. He
added, "Right now what the country needs is for us to compromise."
comments came soon after the White House announced that Obama would
veto a proposed GOP bill that would raise tax rates for Americans making
more than $1 million if it reaches his desk.
Boehner floated his
so-called "Plan B" legislation on Tuesday to avert tax hikes for most
Americans set to go into effect at the beginning of next year.
president said he remains open to negotiations and eager to hatch a
deal before Christmas. But he also expressed frustration that
Republicans seem intent on blocking him for political reasons and
insisted that he's gone at least halfway in negotiations.
going to continue to talk to the Speaker (and House Republicans) but
ultimately it's up to them to do their job," Obama said.
his remarks Wednesday, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer
said the Republican Plan B was unbalanced and promised that the
president would veto it if it made it to his desk.
Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner, called the veto threat "bizarre and irrational."
have always said a broader, 'balanced' plan is the ideal solution, and
we have put one forward," Buck said. "In the absence of a 'balanced'
solution from the president, however, we must act to stop taxes from
rising across the board in 12 days."
The latest back-and-forth
comes as negotiations on tax rates and the looming "fiscal cliff" appear
to have slowed, if not ground to a halt.
officials said discussion about a major agreement have virtually stopped
since Boehner proposed his Plan B, despite the fact it has virtually no
chance of passing the Senate. They noted that Obama submitted a plan to
the speaker on Monday, and they are awaiting a response.
White House says the Boehner plan would give millionaires a tax break of
$50,000. The plan also would result in unemployment assistance being
cut off for some 2 million Americans who have been taking advantage of
extended benefits. Obama added that the Boehner plan "violates the core
principles" he debated during the campaign season.
The veto threat
is not unexpected. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Tuesday
that the Democratic-controlled Senate would not consider Boehner's plan
and White House spokesman Jay Carney said it did little to address
long-term fiscal challenges.
Obama's latest proposal included
extending George W. Bush era rates - set to expire on Jan. 1 - for
couples making $400,000 or less, a change from his campaign pledge to
allow those rates to expire on those making more than $250,000. The
Obama offer also included $1.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next
decade. Boehner rejected that offer, saying a significant portion of
the cuts came through budgetary gimmicks.
"Obama has put forward a
proposal that meets the speaker halfway on both taxes and spending,
offering to work with Republicans to cut spending by ... more than $1
trillion beyond what he has already signed into law," Pfeiffer said.
"The president urges the Republican leadership to work with us to
resolve remaining differences and find a reasonable solution to this
situation today instead of engaging in political exercises that increase
the possibility that taxes go up on every American."
analysis prepared by the White House also concludes that the Boehner
plan would actually benefit many millionaires because of favorable
provisions on estate taxes, personal exemptions and itemized deductions.
The administration said the plan would provide an average of $50,000 in
tax benefits for people who make more than $1 million, when compared
with the plan Obama has proposed.
Many middle class families,
meanwhile, would see tax bills rise as much as $1,000 under the Boehner
plan. It ends tax breaks that benefit the middle class, including the
Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit.
administration said Plan B would raise only about $300 billion from
high-income households, less than a third of what Boehner proposed in
his last offer to Obama.
Republicans may move forward with a pair
of votes on Thursday, one to maintain existing tax rates for those
earning less than $250,000 per year and the Boehner alternative.
notion that that the Speaker wants to run a play that keeps tax cuts
for folks making....$900,000 a year and gives more tax breaks to
millionaires and billionaires...and then has no cuts in it doesn't make
much sense," Obama said. "They're thinking about raising taxes for those
making over a million which they say they don't want to to do, but they
are going to reject spending cuts they do want to do. That defies
Officials said the president is scheduled to leave for
his end-of-the-year vacation in Hawaii on Friday, but he will stay in
Washington if fiscal cliff issues are left hanging.