Entries in Plan B (3)


Boehner Pulls Plan B Option as Fiscal Cliff Talks Fall into Disarray

TOBY JORRIN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a surprise development late Thursday night, House Speaker John Boehner pulled his so-called "Plan B option" -- an extension of current tax rates for Americans making up to $1 million a year -- from the House floor, admitting that it did not have the support necessary to pass and leaving a resolution to the fiscal cliff in question.

"The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass. Now it is up to the president to work with [Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in a statement. "The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the Jan. 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation's crippling debt. The Senate must now act."

Immediately after the announcement that "plan B" had failed, Dow Jones Industrial futures traded down, with other stock indicators also signaling sharp losses and volatility for Friday morning's opening -- though stock futures generally are lightly traded in the evening. Indicators soon bounced off the initial lows but still signaled a rough start to the final trading session of the week.

In Washington, all legislative business has concluded for the week. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office said that members could still return, "after the Christmas holiday when needed" if a breakthrough is eventually reached.

The outlook for a deal to avert the "fiscal cliff" by Christmas has reached a new low, with no clear path forward, though lawmakers and the White House maintained hope this week for a deficit-reduction compromise by the end of the year.

A senior aide to the speaker confirmed late Thursday evening that Boehner and Obama still have not spoken since Monday evening, when the speaker told the president that he would move ahead with his backup plan, although staff-level talks have continued behind the scenes.

"Speaker Boehner tried to play hardball by asking his members to vote for a tax increase. He learned the hard way that you must find a bipartisan solution," one senior House Democratic leadership aide said reacting to the developments. "Walking away has considerably weakened him and put the country literally on the precipice of the cliff."

Republicans had sought to act to avoid an income tax hike on 99 percent of Americans in 2013, and leverage new pressure on President Obama in the ongoing talks for a broader "cliff" deal.

Obama has threatened to veto the legislation, calling it counterproductive and the cuts burdensome for the middle class, and Reid, D-Nev., has promised not to bring it up for consideration in the Senate.

"'Plan B' ... is a multi-day exercise in futility at a time when we do not have the luxury of exercises in futility," said White House spokesman Jay Carney Thursday.

Democrats complained that the posturing on "plan B" distracted the focus from a broader bargain on taxes, spending, entitlement reforms and other measures that had begun coming into focus earlier this week.

Reid said the Senate would break for the Christmas holiday but return to Washington one week from Thursday. President Obama will not join his family in Hawaii on Friday as planned if the "cliff" is not resolved, an administration official said.

"If you look at Speaker Boehner's proposal and you look at my proposal, they're actually pretty close," Obama said Wednesday, appealing for a big "fair deal."

"It is a deal that can get done," he said. "But it cannot be done if every side wants 100 percent. And part of what voters were looking for is some compromise up here."

The latest offers exchanged by Obama and Boehner are roughly $450 billion apart, largely differing on where to draw the line for an income tax hike at the end of the year.

Obama wants to see rates rise on incomes above $400,000 a year, a concession from his earlier insistence on a $250,000 threshold. Boehner, who had opposed any tax rate increase, now says he could agree to a rate hike on earners of $1 million or more.

Both sides also disagree about the size of spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.

Obama's plan would trim spending by $800 billion over a decade with half coming from Medicare and Medicaid. He has also agreed to limits on future cost-of-living increases for Social Security beneficiaries, something anathema to many Democrats.

But Boehner has said the cuts are insufficient. He seeks $1 trillion or more in spending reductions, citing entitlement programs as the primary drivers of U.S. deficits and debt.

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

"The real issue here, as we all know, is spending," he said. "I don't think that the White House has gotten serious about the big spending problem that our country faces."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Huelskamp: If I Voted for Boehner’s Plan, I’d Deserve a Primary

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Republicans who vote for House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” fiscal-cliff proposal could and should be challenged in primaries, conservative GOP Rep. Tim Huelskamp suggested at a news conference outside the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

“If I went home and told them, after I took a pledge not to raise taxes,” that he had voted for Boehner’s plan, said Huelskamp, R-Kan., he would “deserve primary opposition.” Many GOP supporters are balking at Boehner's plans, saying they echo President Obama's designs to raise taxes.

Asked about Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist’s approval of Boehner’s plan for Taxpayer Protection Pledge Signers, Huelskamp demurred.

“Grover’s a friend of mine,” he said. Huelskamp noted he had promised his Kansas constituents he would do all he could to prevent taxes from rising and pointed to the large revenue figures being discussed.

Huelskamp presumably isn’t on the greatest of terms with Boehner at the moment. He and two other freshman Republicans recently were ousted from committee assignments. One member of the House GOP steering committee suggested to Politico that personality, not votes, was the reason.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


States File Suit Against Contraception Mandate

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(OMAHA, Neb.) -- Nebraska, joined by Republican attorneys general of six other states, filed suit in federal court Thursday challenging the Obama administration’s policy requiring most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women, including contraception and the morning-after pill, without a co-pay.

The states argue the policy forces religious schools, non-profits and employers to violate their religious and faith-based beliefs by providing insurance plans covering services that conflict with those beliefs.

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Nebraska, argues, “The First Amendment has for centuries served as a rampart against government interference with religious liberty.”

The Obama administration altered the policy in early February amid fierce criticism from advocates of religious liberty.

The president announced an accommodation that would allow women to obtain free contraception by obtaining it directly from the insurance company if their employers object to it out of religious concerns.

But the attorneys general reject the accommodation. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said in a statement, “Any rule, regulation or law that forces faith-based institutions to provide for services that violate their free exercise of religion, or that penalizes them for failing to kneel at the altar of government, is a flat-out violation of the First Amendment.”

The states joining Nebraska are Michigan, Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.

Co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit are two individuals, two nonprofit corporations (Catholic Social Services and the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America) and Pius X Catholic High School (in Nebraska).

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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