By Molly K. Hooper - 07/11/11 06:45 PM EDT
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday disputed reports that he was considering a debt plan that included tax hikes.
The top-ranking Republican shot down reports that a $4 trillion deal to control the debt and increase the debt ceiling, which Boehner had discussed with President Obama in a series of discussions, included $1 trillion in tax increases.
“There were no tax increases ever on the table. There was never any agreement to allow tax rates to go up," Boehner told reporters at a hastily arranged press conference on Monday held just a half hour before he went to the White House for another round of debt talks.
Boehner said that though the negotiations have been “very serious and honest,” the two sides are still gulfs apart on key policy matters.
Obama and Democrats aren't willing to go far enough for the GOP to rein in entitlement spending that would pay off in the near- and mid-term, and are also insisting on tax increases unacceptable to the GOP.
“It takes two to tango, and they are not there yet,” Boehner said.
Obama at his press conference complimented Boehner and said the two had a good relationship. Boehner said disagreements between the two were about policy and not personality.
Boehner publicly praised the president for making the case for raising the debt limit during Obama’s White House press conference.
“I agree with the president that the national debt limit must be raised, and I’m glad that he made the case for it today,” Boehner said before warning that tax increases cannot be part of the solution.
“The American people will not accept, and the House cannot pass, a bill that raises taxes on job creators, the House can only pass a debt-limit bill that includes spending cuts larger than the hike in the debt limit, as well as real restraints on future spending,” Boehner said.
He added that a balanced-budget amendment and spending caps should factor into the equation as well. Barring inclusion of major spending cuts, which Boehner believes can only be achieved with entitlement reform, a bill to increase the debt limit isn’t likely to garner enough votes in the House, the Speaker said.
“To prevent a default, a bill must pass the Congress. A bill that doesn’t meet these tests can’t pass the House of Representatives,” Boehner said, noting that he would convey the same message at the White House this afternoon.
The Speaker agreed with the president that any deal to avert a default of the debt will likely have political ramifications, but Boehner said he was willing to take the heat, if both sides can agree to a solid deal.
“I understand that this is going to take sacrifice, and is going to take political capital on both sides," Boehner said. "I’m certainly willing to take my fair share of it, but if we’re going to take political capital, then let’s stand up and do the big thing, the right thing for the country."
This story was updated at 2:45 p.m.