Saying he’s ready to do what it takes to spark movement on long-term deficit reduction, House Speaker John A. Boehner told ABC News on Wednesday he’s willing to have tax increases be part of that discussion.
“I’ll put everything on the table,” Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos. “I think Washington has a spending problem. I don’t think it has a revenue problem. I’m not interested in raising taxes on the American people. But if it takes leaving it on the table to have the conversation, I’ll have the conversation. It’s time to deal with these challenges.”
The long-term discussions are separate from the current government shutdown fight, which revolves around the long-overdue 2011 spending bills.
Still, the possibility of tax increases has for years chased many Republicans away from even talking with Democrats about major deficit reduction.
That taboo has been slipping in recent months, though.
In December, the bipartisan deficit commission chartered by President Obama argued that the government must take in more revenue if the budget is going to be balanced in the long run, and a bipartisan group of six senators, including three conservative Republicans, is working on a plan that reportedly would embrace revenue increases if the money is used to reduce the deficit.
Those senators now are sparring with Grover Norquist, president of the tax advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, who runs an influential campaign that has lawmakers pledging not to raise taxes. Mr. Norquist argues that legislation that ends up with a net increase in government revenue would violate that pledge.
The government this year is projected to collect about 14.4 percent of gross domestic product in revenues, but government spending will account for about 25.3 percent of GDP — meaning that more than 40 cents of every dollar the government spends has to be borrowed.
The historical post-World War II averages are 18 percent in revenue collection and 20 percent in spending.