News Column

House Advances Plan B

Dec 20, 2012

The U.S. House Thursday approved legislation to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," advancing a plan by Speaker John Boehner that raises taxes on millionaires.

The House voted 219-197 to approve the measure which has virtually no chance in the Senate and would face a president veto if it did get passed.

The bill would extend current tax rates on incomes of less than $1 million. The measure is paired with a second bill that would block the sequester, which would put a major dent in defense spending.

White House press secretary Jay Carney called Thursday's vote "an exercise in futility."

"The Republicans in the House have decided to run down an alley that has no exit while we all watch," Carney told reporters.

Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters his plan was born out of frustration with the White House.

"For weeks the White House said if I moved on rates, that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reform," Boehner said. "I did my part, they've done nothing."

Boehner has said President Obama's latest proposal to avert the tax increases and spending cuts that kick in Jan. 1 would raise more than $1.3 trillion in new tax revenue but cut spending only $930 billion.

The White House said Obama's most recent offer includes roughly $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.

Republicans say too many of Obama's proposed spending cuts came from items such as reduced interest payments on the federal debt, and said it was up to Obama to come up with more cuts.

Boehner counted interest savings as a spending cut in past deficit deals, The New York Times said.

Obama said in a news conference Wednesday he would reach out to congressional leaders in coming days.

He also told reporters he found it "puzzling" Boehner would offer a fallback plan when the two sides were only a few hundred billion dollars apart, and added he would be willing to offer more spending cuts.

"If you look at Speaker Boehner's proposal and you look at my proposal, they're actually pretty close," Obama told the news conference. "There are a few differences, but we're right there."

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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