The defeat of his Plan B - Republicans pulled it when it became clear it would be voted down - is a big defeat for Speaker of the House John Boehner. It demonstrates definitively that there is no fiscal cliff deal that can pass the House on Republican votes alone.
Boehner could not even muster the votes to pass something that would only allow tax rates on those making more than $1 million to go up.
Boehner's Plan B ran into opposition from conservative and tea party groups -including Heritage Action, Freedom Works and the Club for Growth - but it became impossible to pass it after Senate Democrats vowed not to take up the bill and the president threatened to veto it. Conservative Republicans saw no reason to vote for a bill conservative activists opposed - especially if it had no hopes of going anywhere anyway.
Plan B is dead.
House Republicans say it is now up to the Senate to act. Senate Democrats say it is now up to Boehner to reach an agreement with President Obama.
Each side is saying the other must move.
The bottom line: The only plausible solution is for President Obama and Speaker Boehner to do what they have failed repeatedly to do: come up with a truly bi-partisan deal.
The prospects look grimmer than ever. It will be interesting to see if the markets react.