Boehner: Ire over economy becoming fear
By Stephen Dinan - The Washington Times Thursday, September 15, 2011
Saying the economic downturn is deepening into a toxic environment all around, House Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday called for the new deficit supercommittee to go big by laying the groundwork for a full rewrite of the U.S. tax code.
In a speech that effectively marks the GOP’s response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last week, Mr. Boehner categorically ruled out a government shutdown or debt default on his watch, called for a highway bill to be combined with U.S. energy exploration, and warned of a long-lasting spiral of economic and social decline he said is setting in.
“The anger many Americans have been feeling in recent years is beginning to turn into fear — fear of our future,” Mr. Boehner said in a speech to the Economic Club of Washington.
The Ohio Republican drew several lines in the sand, including asserting that there will be no government shutdown or debt default on his watch — a signal to his own party not to delay stopgap funding due by the end of this month.
He also rejected the president’s new jobs-stimulus plan, saying that instead of carving out new tax breaks, lawmakers on the deficit supercommittee should focus on a total rewrite of the tax code that frees businesses up. And he said it must be done without tax increases.
House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio Republican, talks about the economy during an address in D.C. at the Economic Club of Washington on Sept. 15, 2011. (Associated Press)“I think tax reform should deal with the whole tax code, both the personal side and the corporate side, and it should result in a code that is simpler and fairer to everyone,” he said. “Now tax increases, I think, are off the table, and I don’t think they are a viable option for the Joint Committee.”
The president last week called for nearly $450 billion in new tax cuts and spending in the near-term, which he said could spur jobs and help right the economy. This week he proposed paying for that package through nearly $470 billion in long-term tax increases — most of which have deep bipartisan opposition.
Still, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said Thursday her members are united behind the new spending and said Republicans should put the president’s jobs package on the floor for a vote.
“On the steps of the Capitol, Democrats stood together enthusiastically in support of the American Jobs Act and its passage now,” she said. “In fact, people are standing in line and on the steps of the Capitol trying to be the ones to be the first sponsors of the legislation.”
Grim economic news has dominated Washington since lawmakers returned from their summer vacation, and all sides are intent on focusing on job-creation.
But their approaches differ markedly. Democrats call for temporary tax breaks, aid to help keep state and local government employees on the payroll, and massive infrastructure spending. The GOP, meanwhile, argues that government boosts have failed and said the solution is to shave regulations and free businesses.
Mr. Boehner also explicitly linked job creation to deficit reduction, saying the one “has everything to do” with the other.
The 12-member deficit supercommittee began meeting last week, held a hearing earlier this week, and held its first closed-door meeting Thursday morning.
It has been charged with finding at least $1.2 trillion in lowered deficits over the next 10 years in order to win another $1.2 trillion in debt authority. If the committee fails to produce a report, or Congress fails to adopt it, then automatic cuts would take place beginning in 2013.
Mr. Boehner rejected the skepticism many of his colleagues feel over the prospects for the committee to succeed, and said the committee “must succeed.”