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Transition 2012

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Fiscal Cliff Update: Concessions, a New Offer, and a Plan B

by Newsteam Staff
December 18, 2012

Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives for negotiations on the "fiscal cliff" with President Obama at the White House December 13, 2012. (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters) Speaker of the House John Boehner arrives for negotiations on the "fiscal cliff" with President Obama at the White House December 13, 2012. (Joshua Roberts/Courtesy Reuters)

House Speaker John Boehner proposed a “plan B” (WashPo) Tuesday morning that will raise taxes on those making over $1 million in case no comprehensive deal is reached on the fiscal cliff by the end of the year. Boehner said that President Obama’s most recent proposal is still not “balanced” and hopes to bring his “plan B” to a vote by the end of the week, reports the Washington Post:

Despite voting on this alternative plan, “we’re leaving the door open wide for something better,” Boehner plans to tell fellow Republicans, according to prepared remarks provided by aides. “And I have been clear about that with the president. Plan B is Plan B for a reason. It’s a less-than-ideal outcome. I’ve always believed we can do better.”

Obama and Boehner met Monday at the White House (USAToday) for continued negotiations, during which Obama made another proposal to avert the fiscal cliff (HuffingtonPost). The latest White House proposal calls for $1.2 trillion in new revenue, down from $1.4 trillion in the previous proposal, that is matched by spending cuts. It also calls for taxes to be increased on families earning more than $400,000, up from the previous amount of $250,000.

Obama’s new offer comes after Boehner said that he would agree to a tax increase on taxpayers making over $1 million in return for major entitlement cuts, which represents a “major concession,” reports Politico. Boehner also offered to delay a fight over the debt ceiling (WashPo):

Boehner’s offer signals that he expects a big deal with sufficient savings to meet his demand that any debt limit increase be paired dollar for dollar with spending cuts. That would permit him to keep a key vow to his party — and head off a potentially nasty debt-limit fight — at least until the end of next year.

Boehner’s concessions “shift[ed] the onus on Obama to bring the Democratic position on spending cuts and entitlement reforms closer to the changes sought by the Boehner and the GOP,” reports CNN.

Whatever agreement Boehner and Obama come to, they will still have to convince the more conservative and liberal factions of their parties (WashPo) to accept it:

People in both parties said the next few days could prove critical: Either Obama and Boehner would reach a consensus and sell it to their respective parties, or talks would collapse, leaving congressional leaders scrambling for a fall-back plan to mitigate the economic damage from more than $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to begin immediately after Dec. 31.

Congress has been instructed to stay in Washington (Gannett) despite the upcoming holiday.

 –Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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