Making the case that the "Plan B" proposed by House Republicans to keep the federal government from going over the so-called fiscal cliff at the end of the year "does not meet the test of balance," the White House announced this morning that President Obama would veto such legislation if it came to his desk.
That is, of course, unlikely to happen. The Republican-controlled House might pass the plan, but the president's fellow Democrats control the Senate.
In a statement, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer says, in part:
"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. It would also cut off a vital lifeline of unemployment assistance to 2 million Americans fighting to find a job just a few days after Christmas, while deeply cutting Medicare. The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts. This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the president would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage."
Speaker John Boehner's office says the Republican plan:
-- "Does not raise taxes. It is a net tax cut that prevents a $4.6 trillion tax hike on January 1;
-- "Permanently extends income tax rate cuts for Americans making less than $1 million, which protects 99.81 percent of all taxpayers;
-- "Permanently extends the current estate and gift tax ($5 million at 35 percent and indexed for inflation);
-- "Permanently extends section 179 expensing for small businesses ($250,000 and indexed for inflation);
-- "Permanently stops the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) from hitting more middle class families;
-- Permanently extends parity for capital gains and dividend taxes, preventing dividend taxes from being taxed at the highest rates; and
-- "Does not include anything on the debt limit or other non-tax policy items. Remember, Speaker Boehner's rule on the debt limit still applies: spending cuts must exceed any debt limit increase."
Meanwhile, talks apparently continue behind the scenes on a deal to head off automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to start going into effect at year's end.
Update at 11:20 a.m. ET. Boehner's Office Calls Veto Talk "Bizarre And Irrational."
Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck emails reporters to say:
"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. 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."