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Boehner digs in for next battle on debt
House Speaker will insist on spending cuts
“I frankly don’t have a lot of hope about getting something done prior to the election, because of the politics of whatever positions everybody has, because they don’t want to move off those positions for political reasons,” Mr. Hoyer said.
The House only has nine full legislative days scheduled between now and its Fourth of July vacation, and has only completed one of its dozen annual spending bills — and that process took three days.
Mr. Hoyer said if House GOP leaders continue to bring up legislation under open rules of debate — a process that permits amendments from the floor and typically takes longer than a “closed rule” process, then the House must be in session more days.
“Instead of meeting us in the middle on the enormous challenges we face as a country, Republicans are already digging these trenches they’re already in, and they say they’re not going to move,” he said.
With little time left before the election, Congress has left itself a lengthy to-do list in November and December: prevent a large cut in payments to doctors who take Medicare patients; address the expiring 2001, 2003 and payroll-tax cuts; prevent the alternative minimum tax from biting deeper into the middle class; and rewrite the looming defense cuts.
Mr. Boehner called that an “end-of-year pileup,” and said he wants to start negotiating now — particularly on taxes and the debt.
He said the GOP-led House will vote to extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts, but said the real negotiations should happen next year on a broad reform package that lowers corporate and personal income-tax rates while eliminating loopholes. He said that will mean some people pay more taxes, while others will pay less.
In particularly harsh language, Mr. Boehner said he doubts Mr. Obama has the backbone to negotiate real spending cuts.
“The difference between knowing what’s right and doing what’s right is courage, and the president, I’m sorry to say, lost his,” Mr. Boehner said in a broad speech laying out a vision for tackling the deficit. “He was willing to talk about the tough choices needed to preserve and strengthen our entitlement programs, but he wasn’t ready to take action.”
Skeptical tea party
Mr. Boehner’s “line in the sand” didn’t sit well with some in the tea party who said he tried the same tough talk last year, only to accept a massive debt increase in exchange for tentative future cuts.
“It is time for the Republicans of 2012 to lead a coup against John Boehner. Boehner has proven repeatedly he is not a leader. He will not fight against the Democrats,” said Judson Phillips, writing at the forum of Tea Party Nation, which he founded. “He gives lip service to reducing the national debt, but will not fight for it.”
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