Boehner's 'Plan B' failed: Is there a 'Plan C'?

By Michael Glantz on December 25, 2012

As talks to avert the “Fiscal Cliff” continued this week, a deal seemed to be within grasp. Rumors that Boehner would agree to let taxes go up on income over one million dollars and agree to another debt ceiling increase started circulating on the weekend of the 15th. These rumors were unfortunate for Boehner, who had hoped to keep his concessions under wraps until he could get the President to agree to enough spending cuts to satisfy House Republicans. Instead, to everyone outside of the talks, it seemed that Boehner had made these concessions and gotten nothing in return. Facing backlash from his caucus, Boehner was forced to scrap the ‘grand deal’ with Obama that seemed so close and go with what he called “Plan B”.

Left, Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH.)
Right, House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA.)

The Plan B proposal would have made the Bush tax cuts permanent for the vast majority of Americans while raising taxes on income over one million dollars and making cuts to several entitlement programs. The idea behind this proposal was that if the House could pass this legislation, the pressure would then be on the Senate and the President to pass their bill to avert the cliff. Before the vote this past Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the bill would not pass his chamber and Obama announced that if it were to pass the senate, he would veto it. So, before it came to a vote, it seemed like Plan B was dead in the water but Boehner pressed on. The Speaker announced on Wednesday evening that they had the votes to pass Plan B and his optimism was echoed on Thursday afternoon by House Minority Leader Eric Cantor.

Sadly, as the vote approached, it became more and more clear that they wouldn’t have the requisite votes and right before the vote was to happen the House adjourned until after Christmas. Plan B had failed to get enough Republican support to pass. Why did that happen? Many House Republicans were, and remain, staunchly opposed to raising taxes. That ideological opposition combined with the knowledge that Plan B would go no further than the House resulted in their opposition to the bill. The GOP is famous for being the party of low taxes and the majority of GOP lawmakers have signed a pledge against raising taxes. To them, it seemed foolish to vote for a tax hike, break their pledge and open themselves up to a primary challenge from within their own party for a bill that amounted to little more than political theater.

Before leaving the capitol on Thursday, a defeated Boehner stood before his caucus and recited the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” He then issued a statement saying that it was now up to Majority Leader Reid and President Obama to come up with a compromise to avert the fiscal cliff.

I must say, I honestly feel really bad for Mr. Boehner. It must be hard enough to have painstaking negotiations with the President to not have your party abandon you when you try to create some leverage for yourself.

I am a sophomore at the University of Denver studying Film and English. I am deeply interested in Politics and the role of the U.S. in the world at large.

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