While Democrats rejected a recent bid from Republicans on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to create about $300 billion in new tax revenues as part of its deal to identify $1.5 trillion in savings, House Speaker John Boehner today called the proposal a “fair offer.” But he cautioned reporters that a final deal has not yet been agreed to.
Last Tuesday, Republicans on the so-called supercommittee indicated that they would be open to some tax increases as part of a broader deficit deal that includes entitlement and tax reform. The plan, offered by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would raise federal tax revenue by about $300 billion over the next decade by limiting tax breaks such as mortgage interest deductions for Americans in return for lower income tax rates.
“The offer that Republicans put on the table is a fair offer. Toomey, [or] something like Toomey — it’s important for us to, in my opinion, reform the tax code. We’ve got the highest business tax rate in the world,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “Reforming the code is a step in the right direction. The details of how we get there frankly are yet to be worked out.”
Boehner praised all 12 members of the bipartisan committee for their commitment to a successful outcome and he predicted that if members are able to reach a consensus, the full Congress would get behind their recommendations and pass them into law.
“All the members of the Joint Select Committee on deficit reduction, or so-called supercommittee, both Democrats and Republicans, have all done good work,” Boehner said. “They have worked very hard, but there isn’t an agreement and I’m convinced that if in fact there is an agreement that it can in fact pass.”
Asked whether it would be acceptable to use war savings to pay for extending the pay roll tax credit and unemployment insurance benefits, the speaker would not tip his hand on specific ideas being tossed around the negotiating table.
“Those issues clearly have been under discussion between members of the supercommittee as part of some options that they’re considering, but I think it’s too early to predict how those issues will be dealt with,” he said.
While the supercommittee works to beat the Nov. 23 deadline, Boehner said that the House would continue working to address the flailing economy this week by passing the Senate-passed repeal of the three percent withholding requirement (which would have required governments to withhold three percent of their payments to contractors and was seen as a burden to small businesses) and also by moving another Senate-passed measure that encourages businesses to hire unemployed veterans.
“American families and small businesses continue to struggle, looking for the economy to improve and more jobs to be created,” Boehner said. “These were two bills that are part of our plan for American Job Creators; the Senate has dealt with them and we will pass them this week and send them to the president for his signature.”
Despite the legislative successes expected later this week, Boehner pointed to 20 House-passed bills stalled in the Senate that the GOP believes would help put Americans back to work.
“I call on the president and Democrats in the Senate to take up these bills,” Boehner urged. “Let the Senate speak, let the American people speak, because I believe that all 20 of these bill passed the House with bipartisan support and they can pass the United States Senate.”
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, the No. 3 Republican, ripped on President Obama for campaigning rather than working to fix the economy, and suggested the president download a new interactive GOP application, known as Whipcast, to aid him in his efforts to keep tabs on Congress.
“I know the president likes to be out on the campaign trail,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “I encourage the president to download Whipcast today, so when he’s on the campaign trail and he goes to speak he can talk about those 20-odd bills that are sitting in the Senate for job creation that this House continues to move.”
[Whipcast] is an opportunity for all the public to know what is going on in this House,” he added. “Greater transparency, and what a difference one year makes. No longer do bills come to the floor where members can’t read them, but now we only have the three day, we have the entire public able to see it.”