ABC News’ John R. Parkinson (@JRPabcDC) reports:
As congressional leaders prepared to head to the White House for a bipartisan meeting Thursday morning to discuss the debt limit, House Speaker John Boehner continued to insist that tax increases are off the table and said that despite weeks of negotiations there still is no agreement to increase the statutory debt limit.
“We are not going to raise taxes on the American people. We’re not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to help grow jobs,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “The president asked us earlier this year to increase the debt limit for our country with no changes in spending and no changes in terms of how we spend the American people’s money. I made clear that we would not increase the debt limit without real cuts in spending and real changes to the way we spend the American people’s money.”
But Boehner said that comprehensive tax reform is part of the conversation as lawmakers work to construct a legislative package that would simultaneously raise the debt limit and cut spending.
“We know all of the deficit spending and the national debt are a burden on the American people and they create uncertainty for the American people, and they really create uncertainty for small business people,” Boehner said. “We believe that comprehensive tax reform both on the corporate side and personal side would make American more competitive, help create jobs in our country and is something that is under discussion.”
“We are not interested in raising taxes on the American people,” he added. “We believe that spending is the problem. We’ve gotta get our spending both in the short-term and in the long-term under control. We know the entitlement programs are important programs for tens of millions of Americans. But we also know that if they’re not reformed that they won’t exist in the future. There are changes that need to be made to ensure that those programs are around for the long-term.”
Wednesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters that Republicans could work with Democrats to close some loopholes in the tax code as long as any increases are off-set by cuts elsewhere. Until this week, Republicans had suggested that comprehensive tax reform would wait until later this year and that it would be its own legislation.
Cantor, who pulled out of the Biden group negotiations late last month when the talks reached an impasse, said this morning that he was also looking forward to going to the White House for what he suggested could be “the beginning of the final stage of discussions” to raise debt ceiling.
“When we left the Biden discussions there was a blueprint on the table where there could be over $2 trillion in savings consistent with what the Speaker’s mandate is, which is we’re going to insist if we’re going to vote for the debt ceiling increase to make sure that the cuts we achieve exceed the amount of the debt ceiling increase,” Cantor, R-Va., said. “I look forward to going to the White House with the Speaker and seeing how we can come together and resolve this issue so that people across this country can regain some confidence and get back to work.”