Due to lack of support, House Republicans failed to vote on Speaker John Boehner's Plan B tax bill, which would have ended the Bush tax cuts for household incomes above $1 million. It seems that even that high a threshold is unacceptable to the GOP. Speaking to reporters, Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN), who backed Boehner's plan, said that if the country goes over the fiscal cliff, President Obama will be in a strong position to blame Republicans and cut taxes for everyone who earns under $250,000:
"Let's say that we don't do anything," said Burton, gaming it out in conversation with reporters off the House floor. "He lets us go over the fiscal cliff. They're going to blame Republicans. And then the president's going to be the savior."
Obama, reasoned Burton, will be able to use the bully pulpit, including his State of the Union address, to force Republicans into accepting a deal that's worse than they could get now.
"If we go over the fiscal cliff, the president just comes back and says, 'OK, we're going to give tax cuts to everybody under $250,000.' Who's going to vote against that? Everybody'll vote for that. Everybody. Because it will be just a fait accompli. You won't be voting on whether you're going to do away with a tax cut, you're going to be reimposing tax cuts for everybody under $250,000. So the Republicans are in an untenable situation."
If the economy takes a hit before the State of the Union, he added, Obama could hammer them in that speech. "The president just says, 'Well, those guys, those Republicans are just killing everything. They're gonna make taxes go up on 98 percent of people,' and then he comes back in three or four weeks when he gives his State of the Union message and says, 'I'm going to reimpose those tax cuts,' and then if the economy goes to hell, everyone's going to say, 'It's those Republicans.'"