As President Barack Obama cut his Hawaii holidays to leave for Washington, the White House on Wednesday called on Republicans not to block a deal.
“It’s up to the Senate Minority Leader not to block a vote, and it’s up the House Republican leader, the Speaker of the House … to allow a vote,” a senior administration official told reporters traveling with the president.
The re-elected U.S. president id doing his best to reach an agreement to prevent tax rates from rising on all but the wealthiest Americans and to stop steep across-the-board spending cuts, Reuters reminds.
Last week saw the news that the White House proposed a broader package that would have let tax rates remain low for those who earn $400,000 a year, a compromise from the president’s previous rate hike threshold of $250,000.
House Speaker John Boehner didn’t approve Obama’s offer without pushing his own one through Congress, but members of his own Republican Party balked at rate hikes of any kind. Negotiations were stopped as the president and lawmakers left town for the holiday.
Last week Obama said that he is a “hopeless optimist” as he still believes a highly expected deal can be reached before broad tax increases and steep spending cuts kick in on Jan. 1, which may damage the American economy.
On Wednesday, President Obama threatened to veto the Republican measure, the so-called “Plan B,” which would raise taxes on households making more than $1 million, if Congress approved it.
White House communication director Dan Pfeiffer described the Republican back-up plan as unbalanced.
“The congressional Republican ‘plan B’ legislation continues large tax cuts for the very wealthiest individuals – on average, millionaires would see a tax break of $50,000 – while eliminating tax cuts that 25 million students and families struggling to make ends meet depend on.”
Pfeiffer continued: “This approach does not meet the test of balance, and the president would veto the legislation in the unlikely event of its passage.”
Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck replied: “The White House’s opposition to a back-up plan to ensure taxes don’t rise on American families is growing more bizarre and irrational by the day.”
With the deadline set for last week, lawmakers have been also warned to be back in Washington on Thursday. Obama’s return was expected. He told reporters at the White House Friday that he would “see you next week.”
Yesterday the White House reported that the president ended his Hawaiian vacation and is scheduled to leave for Washington aiming to make a bid to reach a fiscal-cliff deal before the year ends.
Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz is urging workers in the company’s Washington-area coffee shops to write “come together” on customers’ cups on Thursday and Friday to tell politicians to end the crisis.
“We’re paying attention, we’re greatly disappointed in what’s going on and we deserve better,” Schultz told reporters.
Boehner and his House Republican leadership team said in a statement that “the Senate must act first.”