Area Republicans Would Have Backed ‘Plan B’

WHEELING – The region’s three House of Representatives members – all Republicans – would have supported House Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” to avoid the nation’s “fiscal cliff.”

Boehner abandoned his plan last week after acknowledging he did not have the votes to get it passed.

Reps. David McKinley and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, said they would have voted for the legislation, with McKinley noting his support would have been “reluctant.”

Plan B called for raising taxes on those making more than $1 million, keeping the Bush tax cuts in effect for about 99 percent of Americans, McKinley said.

The $1 million threshold was actually suggested by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, he noted.

The White House didn’t support it because it didn’t generate enough revenue to help the national debt, and many House Republicans balked at it because no spending cuts were included, he added.

McKinley said Plan B also would have retained the tax cuts for 940,000 small businesses that would have been affected under a $250,000 proposal put forth by President Obama.

“But I didn’t like it,” McKinley said of Plan B. “I wanted to see the spending cuts as much as” other fiscal conservatives.

“The meltdown … that’s how they’re referring to it around here … is obviously pretty disappointing for all of us,” McKinley said. “There is one more play in this chess game they do in Washington, and that is to engage the Senate.

“It’s very frustrating for all of us that the Senate has failed to participate in any of this. I don’t know if the American public fully grasps what has taken place.”

In August – nearly six months ago – the House passed an extension for all the Bush tax cuts to avoid a fiscal cliff, McKinley said, but the Senate never addressed that legislation. Instead, the Senate passed its own bill that eliminated the tax cuts for those making more than $250,000. McKinley said the move was actually unconstitutional, as no legislation pertaining to taxation can originate in the Senate.

“The reality is the only provision the Senate could have done was to take the House bill we sent them in August, amend it and send it back – but they didn’t. I don’t think the Senate really wanted to participate in this, but they made a political statement by passing their own bill.

“We don’t understand why (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid has taken the position he has. But now he is going to be engaged.”

The House also has passed legislation to avoid the across-the-board automatic spending cuts in the federal budget set to take place next year, McKinley said. The measure specifically listed the amount of spending reduction that would occur in each area.

“That met the same fate,” he said. “Nothing happened with it.”

McKinley said if the American economy goes over the fiscal cliff, it won’t be an immediate drop. There would instead be a gradual increase in taxation and spending cuts. If Congress returns this week after Christmas and fails to take action before the end of the year, legislation pertaining to spending and taxation could be passed early in 2013 and made retroactive to the start of the year, he said.

“It’s now in the hands of Harry Reid, and how Harry Reid is going to respond to this,” McKinley said. “He has a host of options.”

Reid can take up the House bill that retains the tax breaks for all but those earning $1 million annually, McKinley said. The Senate also could amend the bill and send it back to the House – either returning it to the president’s $250,000 level or even setting it at some amount in between. The House bill pertaining to spending cuts also remains in the Senate, he said.

“We’ve given them two vehicles,” McKinley said. “I hope they can work with them.”