U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday congressional Republicans would accept "new revenue under the right conditions" to reduce the federal debt.
However, Boehner signaled Republicans would not accept any tax increases as part of a balanced approach to reducing the debt.
"We're willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions," the Ohio Republican said, stipulating that any new revenue must be a byproduct of a stronger economy resulting from tax code reform.
During a news conference in Washington, Boehner -- addressing President Barack Obama, who won another term in Tuesday's election -- said, "Mr. President, the Republican majority here in the House stands ready to work with you to try to do what's best for the country."
Boehner said Obama "must be willing to reduce spending and shore up entitlement programs that are the driver of our debt."
Obama spoke with Boehner and other congressional leaders Wednesday, looking for bipartisanship on reducing the deficit "in a balanced way," the White House said.
The administration released a statement saying the president telephoned Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to discuss the legislative agenda for the remainder of 2012.
"The president reiterated his commitment to finding bipartisan solutions to: reduce our deficit in a balanced way, cut taxes for middle class families and small businesses, and create jobs," the statement said.
Obama told congressional leaders he believes U.S. voters "sent a message in yesterday's election that leaders in both parties need to put aside their partisan interests and work with common purpose to put the interests of the American people and the American economy first," the White House said.
Prior to making his comments at midday Wednesday, Boehner had called for the Democratic president and politically fractured Congress to focus on common ground to try to avoid the looming economic fiscal cliff, The Hill reported. Boehner's comments come hours after Election Day results showed the GOP will maintain control of the House, although with a slightly smaller majority.
Shortly after Obama won his re-election bid and the Republican control of the House was assured, Boehner said, "If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs."
Leaders from both parties had expressed optimism that finding cooperation on the fiscal cliff -- the confluence of draconian, across-the-board spending reductions and the expiration of lower tax rates passed during George W. Bush's presidency -- would be somewhat easier post-election. However, Tuesday's election generally kept the status quo that saw two years of partisan contentiousness and a failure to reach common ground on how to shrink the deficit and grow the economy.
During his victory speech, Obama said he looked forward to working with congressional leaders of both parties to solve the issues facing the nation.
Reid said in his first post-election news conference he, too, would "reach out to my Republican colleagues in the Senate and the House. Let's come together. We know what the issues are, let's solve them."
However, Reid also cautioned Republicans against repeating the strategy they used during the battle over increasing the federal debt limit.
"They tried it before -- we're going to shut down the government, we're not going to raise the debt limit," he said. "They want to go through that again? Fine. But we're not going to be held subject to something that was done as a matter of fact in all previous administrations."
Reid said he was "personally ... not for 'kicking the can down the road.' I think we've done that far too much. I think we know what the issue is. We need to solve that issue."
He said "we should just roll up our sleeves and get it done."
Boehner suggested in recent days that a so-called grand bargain to avert the fiscal cliff wasn't likely during the lame-duck session and something less to buy time for negotiations was more realistic, The Hill said.
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