Boehner’s “Plan B”: Theatrical nonsense

Neither Senate Democrats nor the White House would accept it, and now's not the time for political posturing

Topics: On the Economy, John Boehner, Fiscal cliff, Senate, Republicans,

Boehner's "Plan B": Theatrical nonsenseJohn Boehner (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
This originally appeared on Jared Bernstein's blog, On the Economy.  

There’s not much to say about Rep Boehner’s Plan B. Neither Senate Democrats nor the White House would accept it so it’s just theatrics – and this is a very unfortunate time for theater.

The plan would extend all the Bush tax cuts up to $1 million and that’s pretty much it … no debt ceiling agreement, nothing on sequester, no “doc fix” (cuts Medicare reimbursements by almost 30 percent), no extended UI.

Relative to the president’s most recent offer, it’s actually a tax cut even for millionaires, because their income between $400k and $1 million would be taxed at lower rates.  According to a “preliminary estimate” by the White House, it would raise $300 billion in revenue over 10 years, way less than Boehner himself has offered in recent negotiations ($800 billion).

Enough said about all that – what’s of concern here is the thing I’ve been worrying most about in recent days: As we get closer to a plausible deal (unlike this Plan B), can Rep. Boehner deliver the votes from House Republicans?  I’ll have more on that later today, but this little Plan B foray amps up my concerns. From Jonathan Chait:

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… Boehner isn’t going to get a chance to make his plan work, because Republicans themselves have revolted against it. Heritage Action, the conservative “think tank,” is planning a public denunciation. It is being openly denounced by such luminaries as Marco Rubio and Jim Jordan. Robert Costa reports in National Review that the plan may be dead on arrival. “A lot of us don’t trust Boehner right now,” one House Republican tellsThe Wall Street Journal editorial page…

… the conservative revolt shows something important: Boehner does not have control over his own caucus. Obama is trying to cut a deal with Boehner, and he may succeed, but in all likelihood such a “success” would lead to a reprise of the 2011 negotiations, when House Republicans threw the deal back in Boehner’s face…

I remember that well.  Things are moving quickly, and Rep. Boehner’s worked harder in this go-round to hold his troops together.  But we’ve yet to see much evidence that it’s working and that could totally queer the deal.

Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow. From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden. Follow his work via Twitter at @econjared and @centeronbudget.

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