Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Washington responds to a question… (Michael Reynolds / European…)
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (R-Nev.) reacted harshly Tuesday to House Speaker John A. Boehner’s “Plan B” contingency measure to preserve tax cuts for a majority of Americans, but the proposal gained matter-of-fact acceptance by Republican leaders in the Senate.
Boehner’s plan would raise taxes on Americans earning more than $1 million a year, leaving the remaining rates untouched. It sits far above the $250,000 threshold originally set by Senate Democrats and the $400,000 recently proposed by President Obama in his negotiations with the Ohio Republican.
Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addressed the news media in their weekly party luncheons, with Reid declaring that Plan B wouldn’t pass the Senate even as a “last ditch” effort.
“Speaker Boehner’s proposal is not balanced, will not protect the middle class, because it can’t pass the Senate. And it doesn’t do anything. His so-called Plan B is allowing people who make up to a million dollars to not pay more,” Reid said.
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“If Republicans choose to walk away again, the Senate bill is the only plan that will protect middle-class families from the tax hike on Jan. 1,” Reid said, referring to his own backup plan.
And if Plan B should make it through the House, Reid hinted that the Senate may amend it.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who accompanied McConnell, opened his remarks by asking, “Where are the spending cuts?” and saying, “We need spending solutions,” putting Boehner’s single-track plan in an awkward position.
None of the four Republican senators present, in fact, addressed Plan B until McConnell was asked about it by the reporters.
“I certainly support not raising taxes on 98% of taxpayers. I also don’t support raising taxes on any taxpayers,” McConnell said, adding, “I can’t imagine that I would not be supportive of a proposal that had permanent tax reductions for a substantial portion of the American public.”
As for more specifics, McConnell said Senate Republicans “will deal with the package that comes over from the House,” conceding that Democrats will inevitably want to alter whatever moves through.
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And on the other pressing issue of the day, gun control, Reid and McConnell veered from laying out any specific framework either in support of or opposing revamping legislation in light of the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
McConnell said the debate on gun control will be “up to the majority leader,” and Reid said “every idea should be on the table” for a “full discussion” before any legislative action.
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