News Column

Boehner Pilots GOP Caucus

November 16, 2012
Speaker Boehner

House conservatives say the U.S. election showed voters like divided government, so the lawmakers vowed to fight any tax hikes in the "fiscal cliff" debate.

The House members said at a Capitol Hill event called "Conservations With Conservatives" they were not chastened by Democratic gains in last week's election -- on the contrary, they felt empowered, The Washington Post reported.

And they scoffed at the idea that President Barack Obama's re-election victory, with 50.6 percent of the popular vote, gave him a mandate to let tax rates rise for America's wealthy.

"He has a mandate to talk about it, and we have a mandate to fight it," the Post quoted Rep. Raul R. Labrador, R-Idaho, as saying. "We will continue to fight any members of our conference who believe that this is the time to raise taxes."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was to meet with Obama at the White House at 10:15 a.m. Friday to open formal negotiations on a deal to avoid the year-end fiscal cliff, a combination of big tax increases and spending cuts in the hundreds of billions of dollars scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1.

Also at the meeting were to be House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Vice President Joe Biden, the White House said Thursday night.

Boehner has said he is willing to consider increasing tax revenue if it comes from limiting deductions or closing loopholes rather than raising tax rates.

Obama said Wednesday he would not draw "red lines" on his proposal to let tax rates rise to 39.6 percent from 35 percent on taxable incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

But he said he would not accept a deal that does not include a guarantee of more taxes paid by the wealthy.

While the meeting on the fiscal cliff was a key focus of attention, other lawmakers were working behind the scenes on a Plan B in case a deal isn't worked out.

The bipartisan Gang of Six -- which proposed a U.S. debt-ceiling-crisis solution in July 2011 that Republicans rejected -- is drafting new legislation based on the recommendations of Obama's 2010 fiscal commission, known as Bowles-Simpson, the Post said.

Few senators would offer details about the draft legislation, saying they didn't want to interfere with any agreement that might be worked out between Obama and Boehner.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the ground for compromise was fertile.

"If Boehner and Obama can come together with a deal that sails through the House, then start in the House," he told the Post. But "if you can't get a deal from Boehner-Obama, start in the Senate."

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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