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U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said he and fellow Republicans will oppose any tax increases as part of negotiations to reduce the budget deficit if President Barack Obama wins re-election on Nov. 6.
“Why would I ever be for something like that? I’m not,” Boehner told reporters in Washington today. Boehner said tax increases could endanger about 700,000 jobs.
Some Republicans, including Senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, have been negotiating with Democrats on budget plans that would include higher revenue. Others, such as Senator Jim Demint of South Carolina, have said Republicans would be under pressure to cut a deal with Obama to avoid defense cuts.
Boehner, an Ohio representative, spoke as House members are preparing to leave Washington to campaign. When Congress returns after the Nov. 6 election, it will be facing a $607 billion fiscal cliff of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set to take effect in January.
House Republicans have passed bills that would avert most of the automatic changes. One would prevent the spending cuts to defense programs by finding savings elsewhere in the budget. Another would extend all of the expiring income-tax cuts and begin a process for overhauling the U.S. tax code.
“Our goal is to have tax reform and entitlement reform,” Boehner said. He said that the proposals would probably take “parallel paths.”
“It’s important for our country to fix our debt problem and to have a tax code that’s competitive in the worldwide economy,” he said.
Obama has said he won’t agree to extend the tax cuts for top earners, leaving the parties at a stalemate. Talks between Obama and Boehner over a deficit-reduction deal broke down in 2011 in part because of the divide over tax policy.
Republicans want Obama to relent and support extending all of the tax cuts, as he did in 2010 in the face of slow economic growth and after Democrats lost seats in Congress in the midterm election.
“Nobody knows what the mood of President Obama will be the day after the election, and we’ll find out the day after the election,” said Representative Pat Tiberi, an Ohio Republican and senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.
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