The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 19, 2012

Obama: He and Boehner are "pretty close" to deal on cliff

(Continued)

WASHINGTON, D.C. —

Boehner's prospects for pushing Plan B through the House received a boost Wednesday when anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said the measure would not violate his anti-tax pledge, which most GOP members of Congress have signed.

Norquist said the "sole purpose" of Plan B is to prevent tax increases — not mentioning that it would allow higher taxes on people earning over $1 million, which until recently had been a non-starter among Republicans.

But Club for Growth, a conservative group that often finances challengers to Republicans it considers too moderate, urged lawmakers to oppose Plan B because it would raise taxes on the wealthy, as well as on capital gains and dividends.

Obama's latest offer — focusing tax boosts on incomes above $400,000 — would affect nearly 1.1 million taxpayers. Limiting the tax boosts to income exceeding $1 million would target just 237,000 households, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service figures for 2009.

Boehner's backup plan could serve other purposes besides letting GOP supporters vote to protect more than 99 percent of taxpayers from paying higher levies.

Allowing a vote on Plan B might increase GOP support for a negotiated compromise with Obama. Some Republicans might feel more comfortable supporting an accord with Obama — which would likely include more tax increases than they want — after being given a chance to vote for Boehner's narrower tax increase on millionaires because it would let them show voters that they preferred a smaller tax boost.

Even so, House GOP leaders are laboring to line up enough support for the backup measure in the face of conservatives reluctant to boost anyone's taxes. Even if it could survive in the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has declared it dead in his chamber and now the White House has promised to veto it should it somehow reach Obama's desk.

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