The White House on Wednesday said in a statement that President Obama will veto House Republicans' so-called "Plan B" legislation that has been presented as an alternative if negotiations to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" fail.
The "Plan B" legislation would extend current tax rates on income under $1 million, offer a permanent fix for the alternative minimum tax, and keep estate tax rates at 35 percent, with a $5 million exemption. It would not address many other aspects of the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts known as the "fiscal cliff."
Mr. Obama campaigned on allowing tax rates to rise on income over $250,000, and his latest "fiscal cliff" offer would have them rise on income over $400,000. "At this point having a backup plan to make sure that as few American taxpayers are affected by this increase as possible moving down that path is the right course of action for us," House Speaker John Boehner said of "Plan B" on Tuesday. It is not clear that Boehner's plan has the support of enough House Republicans to pass that chamber.
In a statement, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said the plan "continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals - on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 - while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on and ending critical incentives for our nation's businesses."
"It would also cut off a vital lifeline of unemployment assistance to 2 million Americans fighting to find a job just a few days after Christmas, while deeply cutting Medicare," he said. "The deficit reduction is minimal, and perversely, given its authors, solely through tax increases with no spending cuts. This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the President would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage."
The White House attached to the statement an analysis that said "Plan B" would raise "only about $300 billion from high-income households," in part because it repeals tax expenditure limits. It said more than $500 billion in revenue would be lost relative to the tax bill passed in the Democrat-led Senate, the so-called "sequester" spending cuts would remain, and doctors would see their reimbursements slashed for Medicare patients.
In the statement, Pfeiffer said the president "has put forward a proposal that meets the Speaker halfway on both taxes and spending, offering to work with Republicans to cut spending by an additional more than one trillion dollars beyond what he has already signed into law. The President urges the Republican leadership to work with us to resolve remaining differences and find a reasonable solution to this situation today instead of engaging in political exercises that increase the possibility that taxes go up on every American."
In response to the veto threat, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck deemed the White House position "bizarre and irrational."
"The White House's opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don't rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day," he said. "Republicans have always said a broader, 'balanced' plan is the ideal solution, and we have put one forward. In the absence of a 'balanced' solution from the President, however, we must act to stop taxes from rising across the board in 12 days. If Democrats disapprove of this bill, then there is a simple solution: amend it in the Senate and send it back to the House."