House Speaker John Boehner is pleased President Barack Obama is reaching out to the Republican rank and file--but, Boehner insists, no tax increases."It was really kind of interesting that this week we've gone 180," Boehner told a Thursday news conference. "After being in office now for four years, he's actually going to sit down and talk to members. I think it's a sign -- a hopeful sign, and I'm hopeful that something'll come out of it."
But, Boehner warned, "if the president continues to insist on tax hikes, I don't think we're going to get very far. If the president doesn't believe that we have a spending problem, I don't know if we -- going to get too -- very far. But I'm optimistic."
Here's more from Boehner:
"Listen, as I told the president last week, the more members that we engage in this process, I think, the better off we are, for a couple of reasons," the Ohio Republican said.
Boehner pointed out "here are a lot of people with good ideas around this Congress, both in the House and the Senate. And secondly, if you're ever going to pass a major bill that will begin to address our spending problem, we're going to grow this support, and it's going to have to be an organic process. And so I think it's a hopeful sign, and maybe something'll come of it."
Is the president trying to rally Republicans without the leadership?
No, Boehner said. "I don't feel like the president's going around me. You look at all the presidents I've worked with in the years that I've been here -- these presidents have engaged the leaders and members on an ongoing basis for some time.
"And I frankly think it's a somewhat hopeful sign that the president, now in his second term, is beginning to understand that you've got to have -- even the leaders have to have support of the members," the speaker said.
This is way Congress has often worked. "If you look at regular order, bills come through committee, where there's a process and the building support at the committee level and bringing them to the floor, and you all write about what happens in committees, and more members understand it, and it is an organic process to move a bill through each chamber," he said.