Today, the White House and Congressional Democrats rejected House Speaker Boehner’s (R-OH) “Plan B” proposal in the Fiscal Cliff Negotiations:
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney issued a statement saying the president remains willing to work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution to the fiscal cliff and he is “hopeful” they will.
The president, however, “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,” Carney said. “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.
Excuse me? The so-called “Plan B” put tax increases for households making over $1 million. The plan also included entitlement cuts and a tax reform debate for next year. If I recall correctly, and I think I do, this is exactly what Mr. Obama was calling for during his re-election campaign. In fact:
President Obama on Monday will call for a new minimum tax rate for individuals making more than $1 million a year to ensure that they pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as middle-income taxpayers, according to administration officials.
With a special joint Congressional committee starting work to reach a bipartisan budget deal by late November, the proposal adds a new and populist feature to Mr. Obama’s effort to raise the political pressure on Republicans to agree to higher revenues from the wealthy in return for Democrats’ support of future cuts from Medicare and Medicaid.
The above quote is from a New York Times article from September 17th. The proposals in that article are identical to the provisions in Boehner’s plan. It’s therefore understandable that he’s a bit frustrated at the White House’s response:
Within minutes, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck fired back: “After spending months saying we must ask for more from millionaires and billionaires, how can they reject a plan that does exactly that?”
Buck accused President Obama of “moving the goal posts” and in the process “threatening every American family with higher taxes.”
So why is Obama rejecting the very proposal on which he was campaigning? Obviously he’s in no hurry to reach a deal, and seems perfectly willing to jump right over the cliff. Why? Because he knows that he has leverage on the tax issue (not so much on the debt ceiling). So, he’s moving the goalposts now to ensure that he gets more and more of what he wants now (including a debt ceiling increase), rather than have to wait until we hit the ceiling, when he’ll be at a disadvantage. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the added benefit for Obama in that going over the cliff will do more to hurt the Republicans – at times he seems to be more interested in permanently damaging their brand than on fixing this country’s economic problems.
Post script: I wrote this post in response to a “challenge” by RB Pundit:
Just imagine if every conservative with a microphone laid out the plain case that Obama is rejecting his own past proposals. Eek!
— RB (D) (@RBPundit) December 18, 2012
I’l admit, my microphone is pretty small right now, but events like this were the exact reason I started this blog, and this is a good time to start living up to my commitment. Thanks for the kick, RB.