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White House: Obama would veto GOP's 'Plan B'

 

Updated 10:48 a.m. - President Barack Obama would veto House Republicans' "Plan B" legislation should it make its way to the White House, a top administration spokesman said Wednesday.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner may be the closest they've ever been to a fiscal cliff deal. The Daily Rundown's Chuck Todd reports.

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer said in a statement that the GOP backup proposal -- which would preserve existing tax rates on income less than $1 million past the end of this year -- "does not meet the test of balance, and the president would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, unveiled the "Plan B" proposal on Tuesday amid stalled talks with Obama toward resolving the combination of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take place on Jan. 1 -- the so-called fiscal cliff.

The proposal would allow tax rates rise on income over $1 million, matching a previous Democratic proposal earlier this year. The administration, however, has set a lower threshold ($400,000 per year) at which it believes taxes should be allowed to rise. Moreover, the administration has argued for a more comprehensive agreement that includes spending cuts and entitlement reforms, but also new spending projects and an extension of unemployment insurance.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington December 18, 2012.

"The congressional Republican 'Plan B' legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals - on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 - while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on and ending critical incentives for our nation’s businesses," Pfeiffer said.

Republicans, as of now, plan to move forward with a set of twin votes on Thursday, one to maintain existing tax rates for those earning less than $250,000 per year (Obama's existing proposal) and the GOP "Plan B" alternative. Boehner. who is continuing to negotiate a broader deal with Obama, will likely have to pass his backup plan only with Republican support -- and even then, conservatives who are leery of raising any taxes at all may defect.

"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," Pfeiffer wrote.

"The White House’s opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day," said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck in response. "Republicans have always said a broader, ‘balanced’ plan is the ideal solution, and we have put one forward. 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. If Democrats disapprove of this bill, then there is a simple solution: amend it in the Senate and send it back to the House."