In an embarrassing setback Thursday night, Speaker John Boehner couldn't secure enough votes from his rebellious Republican majority to move forward the bill, known as Plan B, that would raise taxes on households earning $1 million or more. In a Friday morning press conference, he tried to spin the mutiny, by putting the onus on President Obama to avert the fiscal cliff.
"He wants more spending and more tax hikes that will hurt our economy, and he simply won't deal honestly with entitlement reform and the big issues that are facing our country," Boehner said, adding that he still hopes a deal can be reached.
He was forced to abruptly cancel the vote scheduled last night in large part because conservative Republican lawmakers didn't want to go on record supporting a tax hike, which they vehemently oppose. They also knew it was a nonstarter in the Senate and with Obama.
"It basically proves the Republicans' position that rich people don't have enough money and poor people have too much money," Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison told BET.com.
Plan B, Ellison said, would have increased taxes for middle- and low-income households by eliminating provisions like the payroll tax holiday.
Boehner had hoped to use the bill as a bargaining chip to force Obama to make tough spending cuts.
Now the question is how to avert the looming fiscal cliff, which will raise everyone's taxes in January.
"The president will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy," said White House spokesman Jay Carney in a statement issued soon after the aborted vote.
Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the White House Council of Advisers, offered this bit of conventional wisdom via Twitter: fiscal bungee jump. fly off cliff but bounce back quickly. hope for little pain and no snapping of cord.
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)