Transcript: Rep. John Boehner Speaks to Diane Sawyer


DIANE SAWYER: So, how long will that take? Will it take one -- till February of next year? Will it take --

JOHN BOEHNER: Well, I'm hoping that it can start -- yet this year. Let's make sure we extend all of the current tax rates for all Americans. That will begin to reduce the uncertainty.

DIANE SAWYER: Let me ask you about that, because as you know, you've got 60 new members, at least, that identify with the Tea Party. And they have said they want permanent extension of the tax cuts. Permanent. No variations on income for two years. No variations as you go. Are you saying today, it's permanent or nothing? You're going for permanent?

JOHN BOEHNER: Oh, I believe that we ought to extend all of the current tax rates for all Americans. And the extent -- you can make them permanent. People have some idea of how to plan.

DIANE SAWYER: But I think you said once that if you had just one option and that option was -- to take what you could get, basically. Take the middle -- class cut and then wait on the -- the over $250,000 --

JOHN BOEHNER: Well, this is after I answered the question the same way six times. And -- one of your competitors asked me a seventh time the same question. If it was the only option. Listen, I think what's best for the economy and to create jobs is to extend all of the current tax rates -- for all Americans. It -- it begins to reduce the uncertainty. And for small businesspeople, they can look up and begin to plan.

DIANE SAWYER: But if you extend it for one year, for two years, is that okay? Would you do that?

JOHN BOEHNER: I -- I don't think -- that eliminates the uncertainty that's preventing employers from hiring.

DIANE SAWYER: But I guess the question is, will you begin talking about a middle ground or are you saying permanent as far as the eye can see for all income groups --

JOHN BOEHNER: We're gonna have -- we're gonna have -- this debate here in Congress over the next couple of months. Congress is gonna come back in a lame duck session. We have to deal with two issues. Spending and taxes. And I believe that -- extending all the current tax rates for all Americans is the best policy -- given the economic uncertainty that our country faces and the uncertainty the small businesspeople face all around the country.

DIANE SAWYER: But you're not gonna declare this way or the highway, at this point?

JOHN BOEHNER: It's only been 48 hours since the election. I do think that -- my job is to listen to the American people. I'm not -- I don't think Washington has a revenue problem. I think Washington has a spending problem.

DIANE SAWYER: So, you're not gonna rule out some negotiated compromise?

JOHN BOEHNER: I'm gonna make it perfectly clear. I am for extending all of the current tax rates for all Americans.

DIANE SAWYER: But you don't rule out -- if it's your only option --

JOHN BOEHNER: We're -- we're -- we're getting into -- what could be or not be -- it's too early for all that.

DIANE SAWYER: A question about the debt limit, because that is coming and that's a certainty it's coming. And people say there are really two options. If you don't extend the debt limit, and we know in the last vote, Republicans did not vote to extend it, you have the vision of kind of apocalypse of not paying back the debt around the world. And yet, if you do expend it -- extend it, we know that it goes against what Republicans stood for. What are you going to advise?

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