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Fiscal Cliff: Republican Plan Ends In Failure

(c) Sky News 2012

House Speaker John Boehner said on Friday that he was still open to talks with President Obama - a day after being forced to scrap a vote on his back-up plan to avoid the fiscal cliff crisis.

Mr Boehner had confidently predicted on Thursday that he would muster sufficient backing for his "Plan B" proposal which would have extended Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans except those earning less than $1m (£615k).

But conservatives in the House of Representatives, who saw the plan as a tax hike for the rich, revolted.

"We had a number of our members who didn't want to be perceived as raising taxes,' Mr Boehner told reporters.

The Speaker had been hoping to use the vote as leverage in his talks with Mr Obama, in a bid to avert the automatic year-end tax hikes and spending cuts set to kick in on January 1.

On Friday, he again tried to shift the pressure for a deal to the President.

"We only run the House. The Democrats continue to run Washington," he said.

Even if it had succeeded in the House, the bill would have struggled in the Democrat-controlled Senate and the President would have then exercised his veto.

The White House said "Plan B" still offered big tax breaks to very wealthy Americans who do not need them.

Mr Obama - who originally insisted on letting the tax cuts expire on households earning more than $250k (£154k) - has since upped that threshold to $400k (£246k) in an attempt to reach a compromise.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said a "bipartisan solution" was still possible.

"The President's main priority is to ensure that taxes don't go up on 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses in just a few short days," he said.

Mr Obama "will work with Congress to get this done and we are hopeful that we will be able to find a bipartisan solution quickly that protects the middle class and our economy," he added.

The White House insists the two sides are not that far apart.

Both the President and Speaker have shown a willingness to compromise, and risk angering supporters of their respective parties in the process. 

Mr Boehner has said he would be satisfied with a balanced $1trn in tax revenues and $1trn in spending cuts, much of it from entitlement programmes like Medicare health care for the elderly.

The President's plan offers $1.2trn in new tax revenues, with just under $1trn in spending cuts.

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