WASHINGTON (CN) - Speaker of the House John Boehner adjourned the House Thursday night without a budget deal, punting the problem to President Obama and the Senate.
Boehner could not persuade right-wing Republicans to go along with his proposal to let President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire for the wealthy. His failure to bring his party along with him was interpreted as a major loss of face for the House leader, and a weakening of his political position, even in his own party.
About 50 House Republicans opposed Boehner's proposal or were on the fence, The Washington Post reported this morning.
According to the Post, Boehner summoned House members to an emergency meeting Thursday night and opened it with a prayer: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
The prayer, adapted from Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations," is the house prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Failing to drag his party with him toward a budget compromise, Boehner called off the vote and left the Capitol without answering reporters' questions.
Boehner's proposal would have let tax rates rise for about 400,000 "extremely wealthy families," the Post reported.
The House is adjourned until after Christmas. The Senate was scheduled to meet for just a few hours today (Friday).
Lost in the debate about the so-called "fiscal cliff" is that President George W. Bush sold the tax cuts in 2001, and Congress enacted them, as a 10-year deal. The tax cuts have been extended because of the financial crisis that began in late 2007. But the so-called "tax hikes" are actually just reinstatement of the situation before the big tax cuts were enacted: back in the days when the federal budget actually had a surplus.
News of the failure sent Wall Street down by 1 percent in early trading today, wire services reported.
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