The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives said Tuesday he would move forward with a backup plan to avert the looming fiscal cliff by introducing legislation to raise taxes on those making more than $1 million per year.
The White House, however, dismissed the plan as insufficient, even as Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Barack Obama were reportedly moving closer to an agreement.
Boehner told reporters that he plans to continue talks with Obama, but felt the need to craft a backup plan.
He had met with Obama a day earlier, and said the White was offering 1.3 trillion dollars in new revenues and $850 billion in net spending reductions.
"That's not balanced, in my opinion. So, at the same time that we're going to continue to talk with the president, we're going to also move Plan B," he said.
His proposal would keep current tax rates on those making less than $1 million in an effort "to make sure that as few American taxpayers are affected by this increase as possible. Moving down that path is the right course of action for us."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was willing to meet Republicans "halfway" on revenue and spending cuts.
"But he is not willing to accept a deal that doesn't ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors," he said in a statement.
"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."
The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Obama had proposed raising taxes only on households earning more than $400,000 per year, after previously insisting on a threshold of $250,000 for tax hikes. The sides were reportedly close on a figure for new revenues and on spending cuts.
Major income tax increases and cuts in federal spending will take effect in January unless Congress acts before the end of the year to enact more gradual deficit reduction measures. With an economic bite estimated at $600 billion in 2013 alone, the austerity measures could throw the US back into recession.
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