House Speaker John Boehner said Friday virtually everything was open to negotiation—except higher tax rates—as Congress and the White House try to find a way off the “fiscal cliff.”
Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this year, and automatic spending cuts
totaling $109 billion in fiscal 2013 are slated to take effect Jan. 2.
Boehner, speaking at a news conference, said he’s ready to talk. President Barack Obama has scheduled to make a statement early this afternoon, and is expected to reiterate his call for keeping Bush-era tax rates for those who earn less than $250,000.
“This is an opportunity for the president to lead,” the speaker said. “This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers.”
He and Obama talked briefly earlier this week, and Boehner called the conversation “cordial.”
The speaker said he is willing to talk revenue, but not higher taxes on the wealthy. “Everyone wants to get our economy moving again,” he said. “Everyone wants to get more Americans back to
work again. Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to creat the jobs everyone
says they want.”
He outlined how it could be raised by overhauling the tax code, closing loopholes and spurring economic growth. But he wouldn’t get specific.
“It’s clear that there are a lot of special interest loopholes in the tax code, both corporate and personal,” Boehner said. “It’s also clear there are all kinds of deductions, some of which make sense, some don’t.”
That was similar to the position taken by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who
also would not specify what deductions he would change, only that he would.
Boehner would also not specify what goal he had for the federal deficit. “Clearly the deficit
is a drag on our economy,” he said, but added, “I don’t want to box myself in.”
Nor would be get precise about what changes he would want in entitlements like Medicare or
Social Security. “This has to be dealt with,” he said. “So everything, everything on the revenue side and the spending side has to be looked at.”