Reid: Senate Democrats won't accept Boehner's 'Plan B'

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Campaign 2012

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he will not bring up legislation from House Republicans that would raise taxes only on those earning $1 million or more a year, though Senate Democrats have backed such a plan in the past.

"Speaker Boehner's plans are nonstarters in the Senate," Reid said.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, planned to pass the tax increase bill Thursday and send to the Senate "Plan B" for averting the fiscal cliff, a collection of massive tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.

Boehner said such a plan was needed because he could not reach a compromise with President Obama on a broader deficit-reduction plan and time is running out.

Reid on Thursday portrayed Boehner as someone who is unable to lead House Republicans and will fail to garner enough vote to pass the $1 million tax rate bill.

"He's been wandering around there in some kind of befuddlement now for a week," Reid said.

But earlier Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., promised the GOP leadership will round up enough votes to pass Boehner's "Plan B," as well as a second bill that reduces federal spending by $200 billion over the next decade. The bill would reduce wasteful and duplicate federal programs, rein in spending on "government bureaucracies" and stop fraud, among other things.

The second bill is aimed at attracting support from GOP members who have been unwilling to vote to raise taxes unless spending reductions are part of the package.

"We are going to have the votes," Cantor said.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, acknowledge they have agreed in the past to legislation that would preserve tax cuts for all income levels below $1 million. But they said their domination of the November elections gives them the clout they need to get a better deal. Obama campaigned on a plan to raise taxes on everyone earning more than $250,000.

"The politics are different," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said. "They should have taken it back then, under entirely different political circumstances."

Both the House and Senate are likely to adjourn until after Christmas.

Reid said the Senate will return on December 27 to again push for a fiscal cliff deal.

Obama and Boehner are edging ever closer to an agreement, with Obama hinting he'll agree to preserve tax cuts for those earning more than the $400,000 he has offered. Republicans, meanwhile, acknowledge they will likely have to vote for legislation to raise tax rates on those who are earning incomes below the $1 million mark outlined in Boehner's bill.

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Susan Ferrechio

Chief Congressional Correspondent
The Washington Examiner