Transcript: House Speaker John Boehner proposes Plan B to avert fiscal cliff
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of press briefing remarks by Republican House Speaker John Boehner on his “Plan B” to avert the fiscal cliff on Dec. 18, 2012:
Our hope continues to be to reach an agreement with the President on a balanced approach that averts the fiscal cliff.
What we’ve offered meets the definition of balanced but the President is not there yet.
The White House offer yesterday was essentially a $1.3 trillion in new revenues for only $850 billion in net spending reductions. That’s not balanced, in my opinion.
So at the same time that we’re going to continue to talk with the President, we’re going to also move Plan B.
I think we all know that every income tax filer in America is going to pay a higher rate come Jan. 1st unless Congress acts.
So I believe and support that we protect as many American taxpayers as we can, and our Plan B would protect American taxpayers who make $1 million or less and have all of their current rates extended.
I continue to have hope that we can reach a broader agreement with the White House that would reduce spending as well as have revenues on the table. I think it’ll be better for our country.
But at this point, having a back-up plan will 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.
Question: What is your definition of a balanced deal? Does it have to be dollar for dollar spending cuts to tax revenue?
Boehner: Most people would agree that that’s balanced.
Question: But can it be just close to that or does it have to be exactly?
Boehner: We do not have a balanced plan when the President’s calling for $1.3 trillion in revenue and only willing to put $850 billion worth of cuts over 10 years.
Question: What type of effect has the tragedy in Connecticut have on the fiscal cliff talks? Obviously, because Obama spoke on Friday, you spoke on Monday. Is there a realization that the country the last thing they want to see is a long drawn-out partisan battle during this time?
Boehner: Well, I think both sides would agree to that. This is a difficult time for Americans. That’s why while we continue to have conversations with the White House, I continue to have hope that we can reach an agreement. It’s not a time to put Americans through more stress.
Question: What would Plan B be for the other big issues that would cause the fiscal cliff? Sequestration, the cuts that will happen automatically; the AMT going away; the Doc Fix going away…Would you incorporate any of that into this Plan B legislation?
Boehner: We’ll continue to look at how we’re going to address those issues as we put this bill together that we’d expect to be on the floor later this week.
But dealing with the issue of the Alternative Minimum Tax, dealing with the death tax, could likely be part of the bill that we’re preparing for the floor…
We would not deal with the sequester.
Question: How close would you say the President’s plan is to being “balanced”? How close are you? Can you get an agreement in the next 24, 48 hours?
Boehner: I made it clear to the President that I would put $1 trillion of revenue on the table if he were willing to put $1 trillion of spending reductions on the table. That, at this point, would be my version of a balanced approach as he’s called for.
Question: How adamant are you that the Medicare eligibility age needs to be part of this? There are a lot of people who think that that’s just an arbitrary cut and there are other segments of the economy would have to eat that even if you did it.
Boehner: There are a lot of issues on the table. That issues has been on the table, off the table, back on the table. It’s an issue for discussion. But I don’t believe it’s an issue that has to be dealt with between now and the end of the year. I think it is an issue that if Congress were to do entitlement reform next year and tax reform as we’ve envisioned – if there’s an agreement – that issue would certainly be opened to debate in that context.
- WhatTheFolly.com: Fiscal Cliff: Boehner rejects Obama’s counter-offer, presents “Plan B”
- WhatTheFolly.com: Overview of the White House’s counter-offer to avert the fiscal cliff
- C-Span.org: Press briefing with House Republican leaders on Dec. 18, 2012
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