WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) put the onus on President Barack Obama on Thursday to come up with a “serious” fiscal plan while expressing confidence that he could deliver on whatever promises he makes in cutting a deal with Obama.
The Ohio Republican’s comments came as the House GOP moved ahead with its "Plan B" approach to averting the so-called fiscal cliff, with votes scheduled on the measure Thursday evening. The plan extends Bush-era tax rates for people earning $1 million or less a year.
Boehner was asked to respond to the White House’s charge that the only reason he is resorting to "Plan B" is because of the opposition he faces within his caucus for his own proposals in fiscal cliff negotiations with the president.
“The president knows that I’ve been able to keep my word on every agreement we’ve ever made,” Boehner said. “The fact is that his plan is not balanced and as a result time’s running short. I’m going to do everything I can to protect as many Americans from an increase in taxes as I can.”
For his part, Boehner accused Obama of being the one facing problems from members of his own party.
"For weeks, the White House said that if I moved on rates, that they would make substantial concessions on spending cuts and entitlement reforms," Boehner said. “I did my part. They’ve done nothing."
“The president’s last offer of $1.3 trillion in new revenues with only $850 billion worth of spending reductions fails to meet the test of balance that he continues to call for," he continued. "And frankly, I’m convinced that the president is unwilling to stand up to his own party on the big issues that face our country."
But the president has made a number of concessions in his latest offer to Republicans, which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) predicted will have the support of Democrats in order to reach a deal.
Obama modified his proposal earlier this week from seeking $1.6 trillion in taxes and about $400 billion in spending cuts to $1.2 trillion in taxes and some $900 billion in cuts. His offer also included a chained CPI, a Social Security benefit cut that is unpopular among many Democrats.
Boehner instead called on the White House and the Senate to act on "Plan B," though Senate Democratic leaders told reporters earlier Thursday that they have no plans to take up the bill if it clears the House and declared it “dead on arrival.”
“We are not taking up anything they are working on over there," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters. "It's very, very, very unfortunate that Republicans are wasting an entire week on these pointless political stunts."
“This is absolutely senseless,” he added. “These are gyrations I’ve never seen before.”
The White House has pledged to veto "Plan B" and called it an “exercise in futility.”
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel confirmed that the speaker and Obama have not spoken in the last 24 hours but “lines of communication remain open at the staff level.” Boehner, too, maintained during his press conference that he is not walking away from negotiations with the president.
“Our country faces serious challenges, and the president and I in our respective roles have a responsibility to work together to get them resolved,” he said. "And I expect that we’ll continue to work together.”