House Speaker John Boehner (Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - The so-called "fiscal cliff" is now just two weeks away. That's the day that tax hikes for most Americans and huge across-the-board spending cuts will kick in unless a budget deal is reached. On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner rolled out what he calls "Plan B" in case he and the president can't strike a deal.
It is Boehner's acknowledgement that they are running out of time. So he is calling a vote on a plan later this week that he knows the White House won't like, in the hopes that they'll make big concessions in talks now to avoid it.
"Our Plan B would protect American taxpayers," Boehner announced. He said he will take his plan directly to the House floor with a bill to extend the low Bush-era tax rates for all Americans making less than $1 million a year.
That's far higher that the $400,000 income cutoff the president is currently proposing, and higher still than Obama's campaign promise to let taxes rise on households making $250,000 or more.
Boehner said he has to bypass talks with the White House and pull the vote on his plan now because the president's latest fiscal cliff proposal still isn't balanced between taxes and cuts.
So what is Boehner's definition of a balanced deal, and does it have to be dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to tax revenue increases? "Well, most people would agree that that's balanced," he said.
But can it just be close to that or does it have to be exactly equal? "We do not have a balanced plan," said Boehner, "when the president is calling for $1.3 trillion in revenue and only willing to put $850 billion worth of cuts over 10 years."
Democrats called Boehner's Plan B a "farce" that undermines delicate negotiations. "It can't pass the Senate and it doesn't do anything," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The president's latest proposal on Monday dropped an extension of the payroll tax cut. And so even if most working Americans don't see an increase in their tax rates next year, they could still see an increase in their tax bill of about $1,000 for the average worker.