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AP News

House speaker says he'll consider tax increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner offered Wednesday to pursue a deal with a newly-re-elected President Barack Obama that would raise taxes "under the right conditions" to help reduce the nation's staggering debt and put its finances in order.

The Ohio Republican said raising revenues would be accomplished through economic growth, lower tax rates, fewer tax loopholes and by making the tax code simpler and fairer.

Boehner, speaking a day after the president's clear re-election victory, said House Republicans are asking Obama "to make good on a balanced approach" that also would include spending cuts and address upwardly spiraling government benefit programs.

"Mr. President, this is your moment," Boehner said at a news conference where he congratulated Obama on winning a second term. "We want you to lead. Let's find the common ground that has eluded us."

The speaker noted that during one-on-one budget talks with the president in the summer of 2011, Obama had "endorsed the idea of tax reform and lower rates, including a top rate of lower than 35 percent," the present top rate.

"We're closer than we think to the critical mass needed legislatively to get tax reform done," Boehner said.

He did not specify what loopholes House Republicans might consider trimming. Nor did he take questions.

His comments were generally along the lines of proposals by vanquished Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney that also were vague on specifics.

Still, the speaker's comments signaled a willingness to enter into talks. He suggested Congress could use its upcoming lame-duck session to get the ball moving on such a compromise.

"We can't solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight," Boehner said. "This is going to take time."

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