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(NECN/NBC News: Steve Handelsman) - Eleven days until the fiscal cliff. House republicans are voting on Speaker John Boehner's plan to keep taxes low and cut spending. But it's so far from what President Barack Obama demands, tax hikes on the wealthiest two percent, that the plan looks sure to die.
This is part of a pattern that's more than a year old. The President and the Speaker get close to a deal and then it blows up. This is the latest blow up.
The only bipartisanship Thursday came at the Capitol ceremony for the late Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye
Joe Biden, Harry Reid and John Boehner stood together, but their fight over the fiscal cliff is more bitter than ever.
In the house Thursday night, Boehner will push through what he calls ‘plan B’ to block big defense cuts in January and raise tax rates just on incomes over a million dollars a year. It’s to try to win over wary tea party lawmakers.
"This debate should be about spending not taxes," said Rep. Paul Broun, (R) Georgia.
Boehner argues his plan would prevent the tax hikes on 99.8-percent of Americans set to take effect in 11 days.
"If Senate democrats and the White House refuse to act, they will be responsible to the largest tax hike in American history," said Boehner.
President Obama vows to veto any bill unless it hikes tax rates on incomes over $400,000.
Boehner's house bill will die in the democratically controlled senate.
"We are not taking up any of the things they are working on over there now," said majority leader Sen. Harry Reid.
Outside the Capitol, liberals kept up their pressure on Reid and the President not to cut too much spending.
"What we should not be doing right now is slashing the benefits of social security, Medicare and Medicaid," said Rep. Rosa Delauro, (D) Connecticut.
Earlier this week, a Boehner/Obama compromise looked just a few billion dollars from getting done.
"They are soooo close! What is the speaker waiting for???" asked Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) New York.
Boehner's waiting for the House to draw a line on tax hikes.
Congress is set to go home for Christmas. Lawmakers come back next Thursday, with just five days 'til the fiscal cliff.
Why doesn't Boehner get a minority of his side to join with most democrats in the house, get a majority that way and pass the deal he almost made with the President?
Same reason the president will not agree to deeper spending cuts and no tax hikes and let a minority of senate democrats join most republicans in the senate and pass that deal.
Boehner and Obama both believe their plans are best for America, and their side would be furious if they caved in.