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Fiscal Cliff Update: Dueling Press Conferences

by Newsteam Staff
December 20, 2012

Sens. Schumer and Harkin discuss Boehner's Plan B on fiscal reform in Washington December 19, 2012. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters) Sens. Schumer and Harkin discuss Boehner's Plan B on fiscal reform in Washington December 19, 2012. (Gary Cameron/Courtesy Reuters)

President Obama gave a press conference Wednesday during which he answered questions on the fiscal cliff, saying:

[U]p until about a couple of days ago, if you looked at it, the Republicans in the House and Speaker Boehner I think were in a position to say, we’ve gotten a fair deal.  The fact that they haven’t taken it yet is puzzling and I think a question that you’re going to have to address to them.

I remain optimistic, though, because if you look at what the Speaker has proposed, he’s conceded that income tax rates should go up — except right now he only wants to have them go up for millionaires.  If you’re making $900,000, somehow he thinks that you can’t afford to pay a little more in taxes.  But the principle that rates are going to need to go up he’s conceded.

I’ve said I’m willing to make some cuts.  What separates us is probably a few hundred billion dollars.  The idea that we would put our economy at risk because you can’t bridge that gap doesn’t make a lot of sense.

House Speaker John Boehner responded with a press conference (WaPo) of his own and said the House would pass his “Plan B” on Thursday “to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American – 99.81 percent of the American people.”

“I hope the president will get serious soon about providing and working with us on a balanced approach,” Boehner said. “Then the president will have this decision to make: He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

With that, the speaker walked away from the microphones without taking questions.

Boehner’s “Plan B” would 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. Republicans Tuesday were also considering adding a package of spending cuts to the bill, reports Politico.

Brian Beutler writes for Talking Points Memo that Boehner “sounds like he’s giving Obama a choice between Plan B or the fiscal cliff. No more negotiations over a broader deficit reduction plan.”

Obama has said he would veto “Plan B” (Reuters) if it is passed by Congress.

Read Obama’s full remarks here.

For more information on the fiscal cliff, see this CFR backgrounder

–Contributing Editor Kirsti Itameri

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