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Posted at 10:15 AM ET, 09/15/2011

Boehner: Tax increases off the table for debt supercommittee


(Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)
Tax increases must not be included as part of any bipartisan deal to reduce the country’s debt, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to say Thursday afternoon in remarks before the Economic Club of Washington.

According to Boehner’s office, the speaker will lay out, in an address that comes one week after President Obama outlined his $447 billion jobs plan, House Republicans’ position on the twin challenges facing Congress: bringing down the country’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate and reining in the country’s soaring debt.

Boehner is slated to deliver his address at 1 p.m. Thursday before an audience of business leaders at the Ronald Reagan Building in downtown Washington. And just as his early May address before the Economic Club of New York kicked off the debate over raising the country’s debt ceiling over the summer, the speaker’s remarks Thursday will help set the stage for the current negotiations on handling the debt and unemployment crises.

According to his office Boehner will argue that the panel should lay the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform – including the closing of some tax loopholes – as well as pursue reforms of entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as House Republicans outlined in their fiscal 2012 budget earlier this year.

The two parties have often been at odds when it comes to defining what constitutes a tax increase, particularly within the context of fundamental tax reform. But by drawing a line on the tax issue in his address Thursday, Boehner becomes the first leader to weigh in with conditions for the 12-member debt “supercommittee,” which is tasked with reaching a deal before Thanksgiving to reduce deficits by $1.5 trillion over the next decade or else $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts will be enacted.

The bipartisan panel, which held a private breakfast meeting Thursday morning at the Capitol following two formal meetings over the past week, has been examining the work of previous deficit-reduction groups. All have recommended a mixture of both spending cuts and revenue increases as a prescription for reducing the country’s more than $14 trillion debt.

That means that Boehner’s address on Thursday is likely to have a significant impact on the scope of any deal that the panel’s members are able to reach. Leaders of both parties as well as the co-chairs of previous debt-reduction efforts have called for the group to “go big” and aim for as much as $4 trillion in deficit savings.

In addition to detailing House Republican leaders’ position on the work of the supercommittee, Boehner will also on Thursday outline the GOP’s vision on jobs and improving the economy.

According to Boehner’s office, the speaker will say that House Republicans remain open to some of Obama’s jobs proposals but will push forward with the GOP’s “Plan for America’s Job Creators,” which calls for decreased regulation and cuts to spending and taxes in order to boost the economy.

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By  |  10:15 AM ET, 09/15/2011

 
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