Posted Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012, at 11:47 AM
John Boehner is looking to have the House of Representatives vote on a "Plan B" option that would extend the Bush-era tax rates for everyone with an AGI below $1 million while allowing the rate on income above $1 million to rise. Jay Carney's response for the White House is short enough to be worth quoting in full:
The President has put a balanced, reasonable proposal on the table that achieves significant deficit reduction and reflects real compromise by meeting the Republicans halfway on revenue and more than halfway on spending from where each side started. That is the essence of compromise. The parameters of a deal are clear, and the President is willing to continue to work with Republicans to reach a bipartisan solution that averts the fiscal cliff, protects the middle class, helps the economy, and puts our nation on a fiscally sustainable path. But he is not willing to accept a deal that doesn’t ask enough of the very wealthiest in taxes and instead shifts the burden to the middle class and seniors. The Speaker’s “Plan B” approach doesn’t meet this test because it can’t pass the Senate and therefore will not protect middle class families, and does little to address our fiscal challenges with zero spending cuts. The President is hopeful that both sides can work out remaining differences and reach a solution so we don’t miss the opportunity in front of us today.
So no deal. The key thing here really is the (apparent) resolve of Senate Democrats. There are a lot of Democrats representing states like Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, and West Virginia who might be tempted to cave and make the president's position untenable. But ever since the formation of the original supercommittee, Harry Reid and Patty Murray have been remarkably successful in holding their caucus unified. Solidarity on this point is particularly noteworthy because at various times in the past both Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (fairly liberal members with a lot of affluent constituents) have indicated willingness to use the $1 million threshold, so it's all a question of tactics and bargaining posture rather than deep issues of principle.