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Wed Dec 19, 2012, 11:27 AM

Boehner’s Self-Fulfilling Plan B

BRIAN BEUTLER DECEMBER 19, 2012, 10:21 AM 3217

Personally, my favorite part of John Boehner’s “Plan B” is how exquisitely it exposes the low cost of hypocrisy in politics. Last year, Dems were fighting amongst themselves over whether the threshold for extending the Bush tax cuts should be set at $1 million or $250,000. Today, a $1 million threshold is a non-starter. (Yes, an election interceded, but let’s not pretend Chuck Schumer preferred the $1 million threshold for purely political reasons).

On the other side of that coin, Republicans are now claiming “Plan B” — which would lock in the Bush tax cuts for income under $1 million — is a huge tax cut. But of course, if that’s a tax cut, so is setting the threshold at $250,000, which Republicans have spent the last year describing as a huge tax increase on small businesses.

But on a strategic level, I think Boehner’s plan, while clever, is also risky — if in fact his goal is to cut a deal with President Obama.

The conceit is that if fiscal cliff talks fall apart, Republicans, by passing Plan B, will have scrambled the CW that they’re only interested in protecting millions and billionaires. That’ll hand at least partial ownership of going over the cliff to Democrats — and thus, perhaps, convince Obama to concede a little more.

The risk, as I see it, is that if Plan B passes (still a big if) it’ll be hard for Boehner to return to the negotiating table at all. His conference will have just overwhelmingly thrown its weight behind a much tamer plan, and in the process Republicans will have taken a huge leap of faith, 20 years in the making — knowingly voting to raise taxes.



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