House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) struck an optimistic note Thursday when asked about the deficit-reduction talks currently underway at Blair House among Vice President Biden and congressional leaders.
“I was born with the glass half-full,” Boehner said at his weekly news conference at the Capitol.
Even as he expressed a positive outlook on the talks, however, Boehner called on the White House to release a more-detailed deficit-reduction plan, echoing the message that Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) delivered to the administration in a letter to Biden on Wednesday.
“I believe that the White House understands that dealing with the major challenges that face our country is important,” Boehner said. “How far they’re willing to go, no one knows. They haven’t put their plan on the table; we have. But I think we have a window of opportunity that I have not seen in the 20 years that I’ve been here.”
Boehner spoke as the talks at Blair House were underway. The negotiations come as Cantor and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have indicated they don’t think House Republicans will be able to reach a deal with Senate Democrats and the White House that includes sweeping reforms to federal entitlement programs such as Medicare.
Asked Thursday whether their comments meant that the time is not right for Medicare reform, Boehner responded, “Absolutely not.”
“Nothing is off the table except raising taxes, because raising taxes will hurt job-creation in America,” he said.
The tax issue has been one of several issues of contention among the parties heading into the talks. While Republicans have contended that any deficit-reduction plan should not include tax increases, Democrats have maintained that it’s necessary to raise taxes, particularly on the wealthy, in order to put the country’s fiscal house in order.