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Boehner’s Gamble Moves Country Closer To Cliff

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John Boehner

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – The nation continued to edge toward a massive austerity crisis after Speaker of the House John Boehner failed to get enough of his caucus in the House of Representatives to agree to a tax plan to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Speaker Boehner was looking to push through a bill that raised taxes on those making more than $1 million per year to help stave off the fiscal cliff. Boehner was also trying to give Republicans cover from claims they voted for a massive tax hike by applying the tax hike only to a small percentage of voters.

But, Boehner’s plan was dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate and was promised a veto by President Barack Obama. The planned vote was therefore more of a political move to strengthen Boehner’s hand in negotiations with President Obama.

In every way possible, Boehner’s plan failed miserably.

“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority,” Rep. Steve LaTourette said, according to Roll Call. “It’s the continuing dumbing-down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward.”

Boehner’s gamble was that he could force the bill through and then turn to the President to demand more concessions to avoid the fiscal cliff.

The problem Boehner ran into was that many in his caucus refused to pass any tax increase for any reason at all. Boehner was fighting an uphill battle against the president and when his “Plan B” failed Thursday night, his bargaining position became that much worse.

Boehner may have cost himself the speaker’s job as well. He’s arguably the most powerful elected Republican in the country and couldn’t reel in enough of his members to pass what he considered to be an easily passable piece of legislation.

In the House, the only hope for passing any sort of compromise between the Speaker and President Obama now rests in the hands of the Democrats and possibly a handful of Republicans.

Currently, there are 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives and 242 Republicans. For a deal of any sort to pass, Boehner will have to secure all of the Democratic votes along with roughly 25 Republican votes or some combination to reach 218 votes.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called the Speakers’ actions on the fiscal cliff, “utterly irresponsible.”

“It’s really challenging to understand why, instead of continuing to do the hard work of the last few steps to get to a deal, the speaker instead decided to jam us by putting something on the floor that he couldn’t even get out of his own caucus because they’re so extreme,” Wasserman Schultz told CNN via Politico.

With the nation looking like it’s going over the fiscal cliff, a plan may start to take shape at the beginning of the year. If all the tax rates revert to Clinton-era rates on January 1, 2013 it will set the stage for President Obama to propose a massive tax cut.

This will give Republicans political cover to not have to say they voted to raise taxes. It will also hand the President a significant victory over the Republicans in Congress. But, Republicans would likely be able to regain their footing in a likely debt-ceiling fight that could repeat the 2011 crisis in 2013.

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