John Boehner: “I Wasn’t Able to Solve Deficit and Debt Problems”

House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that his biggest regret since holding his post with the GOP majority is that he and American President Barack Obama were unable to agree to a grand bargain to cut the nation’s deficits and debt.

Boehner announced that Republicans would compromise on tax revenue in case Democrats will take significant steps to shore up entitlement programs. Photo: Westchesterbuzz/ Flickr

“I think there is room for revenues, but I think there clearly is a limit to the amount of revenues that are available,” said Boehner.

Forty House Republicans and 60 Democrats have already signed on Wednesday “taxpayer protection pledge” — developed by the Grover Norquist-led group Americans for Tax Reform — vowing not to raise taxes.

“The members are in a different place than they used to be. I think they understand the gravity of the situation they face — and I’m talking about Democrats and Republicans,” House Speaker said. “I think a lot of them are ready to deal with it.”

The conservative Norquist, heading Americans for Tax Reform, has been a major force in Washington for years by getting many members of Congress, including nearly all Republicans, to sign a pledge promising to oppose and vote against tax increases.

When asked about Norquist, Boehner dismissed him as “some random person in America” but later he added that “Norquist, like millions of Americans, believes that raising taxes is not good for our economy.”

Boehner announced that Republicans would compromise on tax revenue in case Democrats will take significant steps to shore up entitlement programs.

“Without real reform on the entitlement side, I’m not even going to put any new revenue on the table,” House speaker said. Entitlement programs are: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

He also said that any tax revenue would not come from raising rate, but from overhauling the tax code, sweeping out loopholes and deductions in order to reduce individual and corporate rates.

“I do think that our efforts to have a flatter, fairer tax system, with our targets being 25 percent top rates for corporations, 25 percent top rates for individuals, is achievable,” Boehner announced. “That means you clean out all the garbage. I think it’s very important that it get done.”

Soon after the meeting with reporters, Boehner met one more time with supercommittee Republicans.

In three weeks the panel may come up with recommendations that would be given an automatic vote by House and Senate as well. “Listen, I knew it was going to be hard,” Boehner said.

Boehner spokesman, Michael Steel, said in a statement, “The speaker was making the point, in humorous manner, that Mr. Norquist is one of millions of Americans who oppose tax hikes because they will hurt our economy and put Americans out of work.”

This year is consumed by the budget battles that have come to define the Republican majority that risked shutting down the government and defaulting on the nation’s obligations in its pursuit of spending cuts.

For many times Boehner have discussed a potential deficit deal with President Barack Obama that would have allowed up to $800 billion in new revenues as part of a comprehensive tax overhaul bill that would have eliminated many tax breaks and used the savings to lower income tax rates.

Boehner announces Thursday that “all kinds of discussions are going on now”. “The biggest regret I’ve had this year is the president and I weren’t able to come to an agreement on solving our short- and mid-term deficit and debt problems,” Boehner said. [Via Los Angeles Times, Politics Wires and Huff Post]

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