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Boehner done playing small ball

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While many in public policy and media appear satisfied to avoid dealing with the nation's spending and debt issues until after the election, Speaker of the House John Boehner has made it clear that he prefers to act now, rather than wait around for Taxmageddon. 

Boehner along with former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Co-Chair Alan Simpson were among a bipartisan group of past and present government leaders that met in Washington D.C. Tuesday for the third annual Peter G. Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit to discuss how to deal with the nation's continuing deficit issues. Boehner's message to the conference was simple but could be a painful pill for the Obama Administration/campaign to swallow: lets deal with debt-reduction now.

"Summits like these ... bring together people who just get it," Boehner said Tuesday. "Of course, while I'm happy to be here and I'm sure we all enjoy each other's company, we can also agree that we've talked this problem to death. It's about time we roll up our sleeves and get to work."

POLITICO reports on Boehner's call to deal with the looming debt-crisis now:

It’s not news that Boehner wants to offset the debt ceiling increase and complete tax reform in 2013, but he is sending a clear signal that he wants a fierce debate on these issues before the election.

Boehner’s Tuesday speech marked the opening salvo in the months-long, election-year battle over debts and deficits, which culminates in December when almost every tax cut of consequence expires.

It showed that the speaker, hobbled by miscues, is still willing to take a tough line — no debt ceiling hike without greater spending cuts, and a yearlong extension of current tax rates in exchange for an overhaul of the corporate and individual code in 2013.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Joe Lieberman, moderates retiring at the end of this year, expressed solidarity with Boehner in taking on the issue of spending cuts and tax increases now, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has continued to show no interest in legislating on the problem just yet.

“With the way that the Republicans are forcing us to legislate, I honestly don’t see our being able to do much of anything prior to the election,” Reid told POLITICO Tuesday. “There’s a lot of stuff we have to do in the lame duck. And, well, as indicated, the most successful lame duck in [the] history of the country was the one that we completed two years ago, 18 months ago. And so hopefully, we’re as successful this time as we were then.”

AP reports that during Boehner's speech Tuesday, the Speaker also promised "broad-based tax reform that lowers rates for individuals and businesses while closing deductions, credits and special carve-outs" but failed to offer up any tax increases along the way.

Before meeting with President Obama for a private lunch at the White House Wednesday, Boehner told reporters that he is looking to deal with real issues like impending tax increases and large cuts to the military, rather than "small ball." CNS reports:

“Where’s the president’s plan to tackle our looming debt crisis, where’s the president’s plan to stop the largest tax increase in American history from occurring on January the first?” Boehner said. “Where’s the president’s plan to replace these indiscriminate cuts to our military, which will devastate their ability to keep America secure?”

“It’s time for us to deal with the big issues that are affecting our country and our society,” Boehner said.  “We’ve spent enough time playing small ball."

 

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