House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, couldn't garner enough support among Republicans for his so-called Plan B, a continuation of most of the Bush-era tax cuts except for millionaires or richer, Thursday night.
Things are so bad in the divided Republican party that Boehner didn't even call a vote on the bill, which was the GOP's answer -- OK, some of the GOP's answer -- to fix the impending "fiscal cliff." I can't blame the speaker. Why embarrass yourself further by having it be defeated by your own party colleagues?
So what's next? In a brief statement after the House essentially closed shop for Christmas, Boehner said a fiscal cliff deal is now up to President Barack Obama and the Senate.
The big question is: What will Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., do? He's been a pretty hard-line no-tax advocate himself. Of course, part of that is because he's probably facing a challenge for his Senate seat from more conservative Tea Party Republicans.
So getting a complete tax and spending deal now looks like it won't happen.
The best we taxpayers who are waiting on some tiny bit of tax clarity can hope for is that after the holiday break Capitol Hill and the White House agree to continue some of the tax measures that expired at the end of 2011 -- that's right, the so-called extenders such as the state and local sales tax itemized deduction and above-the-line adjustments for teacher expenses and tuition and fees that would apply to our 2012 tax returns have been dead for almost a year -- as well as fix the alternative minimum tax so that we can at least file our 1040s somewhat on time.
Then after we fall off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1, 2013, members of the new 113th Congress can work on what tax laws they -- or should I say we citizens who elected them? -- want for next year.
Maybe once the current tax rates all go up all by themselves next month, the recalcitrant members of the GOP who wouldn't vote for any tax hikes will be OK with voting for tax cuts to bring at least some of the rates back down to 2012 levels.
But this is Congress we're talking about, so don't go placing any big bets on what might happen!
Happy Holidays and to all a good tax night.
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