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Boehner Delivers Plan B Ultimatum

John Boehner: It's Plan B or Nothing

John Boehner just gave a “press conference” that clocked in at under a minute, where he took no questions and basically said that Democrats could either pass his “Plan B” proposal, which extends Bush-era tax rates on the first $1 million of income and does basically nothing else, or “be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

In saying this, Boehner is trying to talk Americans out of the opinion they’ve already formulated, that the GOP would be responsible if the nation started down the fiscal slope. Instead, he’ll leave on the table what is a very favorable deficit offer, and do this millionaire’s bracket gambit, which the Senate has already said cannot pass, and which the White House has already said they’ll veto. The President very explicitly laid out his offer, and all the public gets from Boehner is a tax cut bill. I don’t see how that flies among the public.

I have to assume that Boehner is pretty confident he can pass the millionaire’s bracket through the House. Grover Norquist gave his blessing to the legislation as not a violation of the no-tax pledge. So presumably he’ll only lose a few at the margins. There’s also going to be a vote on extending the Bush-era rates on the first $250,000 of income, which is expected to fail, though I’ll be interested to see the final results on that. I would imagine Boehner’s troops will whip hard against that.

Then the Senate will refuse to pass the House bill and demand that the House passes the Senate bill, with its $250,000 threshold. And at that point, we’ll be at an impasse, with both sides focused only on the tax side of the fiscal slope – and really only tax RATES, not all of the other expiring tax measures – and nobody talking about the spending side. The “threat” of falling over the slope is what Boehner’s counting on.

And after a couple days of this, we’ll figure out if that’s a real threat or not.

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David Dayen

David Dayen