News Column

Boehner Said to Be Open to More Tax Revenue

Dec. 13, 2012
Speaker John Boehner

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner told President Obama he'd accept more tax revenue if Obama supports deeper cuts to entitlement programs, Politico reported.

The Ohio Republican privately told Obama during "fiscal cliff" talks he'd consider more than the $800 billion in tax revenues he already proposed, the political news website said, citing several sources familiar with the talks.

Politico did not say how Boehner suggested the new tax revenue would be raised. Boehner has adamantly refused to raise upper-income tax rates. Obama has insisted marginal income rates go up on the top 2 percent of Americans.

The White House and Boehner's office had no comment on the report. Both sides agreed last week not to discuss internal discussions.

Obama told the ABC news magazine "20/20" Tuesday night that if Republicans relent on their resistance to tax rates going up on the wealthy, "then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side."

"Taxes are going to go up one way or another," he said, "and I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."

Boehner's reported olive branch came as a public-opinion poll indicated Americans clearly want to work out a deal, and soon, to avoid the fiscal cliff's $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and across-the-board spending cuts due to take effect in 19 days.

About two-thirds told a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday they want Congress to strike a deal to reduce the federal budget deficit, even if means cutting Social Security and Medicare and increasing tax rates for people who earn more than $250,000 a year.

Seventy-six percent of respondents, including 61 percent of Republicans, said they would accept raising taxes above $250,000 to avoid the cliff.

By contrast, less than 3 in 10 said congressional Republicans should stick to their guns on the deficit, even if that meant triggering the cliff's automatic cuts to domestic and military spending and higher tax rates across the board.

If the spending cuts and tax increases go into effect, 24 percent said they would blame the Republicans and 19 percent said they'd blame Obama and the Democrats, while 56 percent said they'd blame both equally.

The telephone poll of 1,000 adults, including 300 adults who use only a cellphone, was conducted by the polling organizations of Peter D. Hart and Bill McInturff Dec. 6-9. It has an error margin of 3.1 percentage points, with subgroup tolerances larger, the Journal said.

Big-business executives are also coming out in support of higher taxes, saying avoiding the fiscal cliff is their No. 1 priority.

"The idea that you're going to go over the cliff and work it out later, that is not really thinking about your customers," Nicholas Akins, chief executive officer of Ohio utility giant American Electric Power, told The Washington Post.

The executives -- including many who supported GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who opposed tax hikes -- said they were not looking forward to higher taxes, but said if the cliff is avoided, many other key issues could be taken care of in broader tax-reform negotiations they imagined would take place next year, the Post said.

More than 160 major-company CEOs signed a letter organized by the Business Roundtable Tuesday pledging support for a "compromise" that would "result in market-credible spending reductions and revenue growth." Obama spoke to the group last week.

Several hedge fund executives met with White House aide Valerie Jarrett Wednesday to discuss how to resolve the budget dispute, a person familiar with the meeting told the Post.

Source: Copyright United Press International 2012

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