House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said House Republicans would be willing to agree to new revenues to help deal with the nation’s financial woes — but only “under the right conditions”
“A balanced approach isn’t balanced if it means higher taxes on small businesses that are the key to getting our economy moving again,” Boehner said. “A balanced approach isn’t balanced if it’s done in the old Washington way of raising taxes now and ultimately failing to cut spending in the future.”
He cited the 1986 tax reform as an exemplary model, stressing that cuts need to be made before new revenues can be accepted.
Boehner said that House Republicans want President Obama “to make good on a balanced approach” that would address both spending cuts and government social benefit programs.
“For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we’re willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions,” he said. “What matters is where the increased revenue comes from and what type of reform comes from it.”
Later in his speech, the Majority House leader said conditions on higher taxes would include a revamped tax code to make it cleaner and fairer, fewer loopholes and lower rates for all.
The speaker noted that during one-on-one budget talks with the president in the summer of 2011, Obama had “endorsed the idea of tax reform and lower rates, including a top rate of lower than 35 percent,” the present top rate.
“We’re closer than we think to the critical mass needed legislatively to get tax reform done,” he said.
The speaker also suggested Congress could use its upcoming lame-duck session to get the ball moving on such a compromise.
“We can’t solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight … This is going to take time,” he said.
“Mr. President, this is your moment,” he added. “We want you to lead, not as a liberal or a conservative, but as President of the United States of America.”
UPDATE: In response to some anger over Mr. Boehner’s “tax deal” remarks, it’s important to note that he has made the president this offer at least three times since becoming House Majority Leader.
First, right after he became speaker:
If considering revenue increases leads to a big 2012 budget deal for Republicans then so be it, Speaker John Boehner told me.
“I’ll put everything on the table. I think Washington has a spending problem. I don’t think it has a revenue problem. I’m not interested in raising taxes on the American people. But if it takes leaving it on the table to have the conversation, I’ll have the conversation,” he told me.
Second, in Novbember 2011:
“There’s room for revenue but there clearly is a limit to the revenues that may be available” to help reach the congressionally mandated target of cutting government deficits by at least $1.2 trillion, Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters yesterday in Washington…
“Without real reform on the entitlement side, I don’t know how you put any revenue on the table,” Boehner said. The speaker said he “made this clear” to President Barack Obama during failed negotiations on deficit-reduction bargain in July.
And then in June of this year:
The Speaker replied: “Well, in negotiations with the president, I had additional revenues on the table. Revenues out of economic growth. Revenues out of a more efficient tax system. Revenues out of what I’ll call opportunity costs from having certainty about what the tax code looks like.”
But Boehner appeared to shut the door on raising taxes.
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The Associated Press contributed to this story.