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John Boehner plays down setback of his fiscal 'fallback' plan

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Boehner and House Republicans had spent the past week chiding Obama for not being serious about avoiding the fiscal cliff, noting that the speaker's "fallback plan," which would have let Bush-era tax cuts lapse for millionaires, showed their own willingness to compromise. The now-dead measure would have preserved those income-tax rates for 99 percent of taxpayers – and would have allowed GOP lawmakers to counter the contention that Republicans are mainly intent on protecting the interests of the wealthy. 

But the House leadership badly miscalculated. House majority leader Eric Cantor had vowed that Plan B had enough GOP support to pass without a single Democrat, but a firestorm of dissent among the most conservative GOP interest groups evidently triggered second thoughts among lawmakers. Those groups decried Plan B as tantamount to a tax hike and promised to hold lawmakers to account for supporting it – and whether by pressure from outside groups or lawmakers' own consciences, that issue is the one that sunk the vote.

"There was a perception created that that vote last night was going to increase taxes. Now I disagree with that characterization of the bill,  but that impression was out there. And we had a number of our members who just didn't want to be perceived as having raised taxes. That was the real issue," Boehner said Friday. 

Streaming from a late-night, closed-door caucus meeting, lawmakers made clear that no vote would be held after all. Instead, they would be going home until after Christmas.

Moreover, House Republicans appeared to be throwing up their hands at deficit-reduction negotiations, with several GOP lawmakers leaving the meeting Thursday night falling back on cries of support for bills that their caucus approved months ago and that were left for dead by the Democratic-led Senate.  

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