The Washington Post

John Boehner: ‘Raising tax rates is unacceptable’



Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday that House Republicans are willing to talk about the possibility of raising tax rates — but remain opposed to doing so.

“Raising taxes on small business people is the wrong prescription given where our economy is,” Boehner said in an interview with ABC. “Because when you look at the president’s proposal, half of the people who would get hit with higher taxes file their taxes as individuals, or as business taxes.”

The interview airs Thursday evening on ABC’s “World News with Diane Sawyer.”

Sawyer pressed Boehner repeatedly on the possibility of at least discussing tax increases, citing messages from viewers and exit polls from Tuesday that found 60 percent of voters said Tuesday that they agree with raising taxes on wealthier Americans

But Boehner remained adamant:: “Raising tax rates is unacceptable. And frankly, it couldn’t even pass the House. I’m not sure it could pass the Senate.”

“Of course, we’ll talk about it. We talk about all kinds of things we may disagree on,” Boehner said. “I’m the most reasonable, responsible person here in Washington. The president knows it. He knows that he and I can work together. The election’s over. Now it’s time to get to work.”

The speaker on Wednesday opened the door to increased tax revenue as part of a bipartisan deal to tame the soaring national debt, saying that Republicans are “willing to accept new revenues.” In formal remarks to reporters, Boehner said he is willing to break with the orthodoxy of many influential Republicans out of a desire to “do what’s best for our country.”

Those comments — and similar sentiments raised by Senate leaders since Election Day, could help break the political logjam standing in the way of avoiding the fiscal cliff, which economists warn could plunge the nation into recession. And any deal could finally allow the White House and Congress to move ahead on other issues of long-standing concern.

Among those non-fiscal issues that lawmakers now appear eager to discuss is immigration reform — and Boehner said his chamber will take up the issue in the next session.

“This issue has been around far too long,” the Speaker said. “A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”

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Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

RELATED: What is the fiscal cliff?

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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