Boehner: Election a 'mandate to work together' with Dems

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called it "critical" to avoid automatic spending cuts and tax-rate increases that could go into effect if Congress does not agree on a deficit-reduction plan.

Boehner's call during the weekly Republican address came after a week in which Republicans and Democrats moved away from focusing on Tuesday's presidential election and toward immigration reform and a deal to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff."

Boehner urged Congress to begin action on job creation and deficit reduction.

"It’s also critical to averting the so-called fiscal cliff, a combination of automatic spending cuts and tax rate increases that’s just weeks away from taking effect," Boehner said. "Some have said that despite the risks, we should let our nation’s economy go off part of the fiscal cliff in January, by allowing the top two rates to rise. They believe that doing that will generate more revenue for the federal government.

"But here’s the problem with that. Raising those rates on January 1 would, according to the independent firm Ernst & Young, destroy 700,000 American jobs. That’s because many of those hit by this tax increase are small business owners – the very people who are the key to job creation in America. I used to be one of them."

Boehner said that Congress's deficit-reduction deal should focus on tax reform, closing tax loopholes, and reforming entitlement programs instead of raising tax rates.

"Let’s focus on tax reform that closes special interest loopholes and lowers tax rates," Boehner said. "Instead of accepting arbitrary cuts that will endanger our national defense, let’s get serious about shoring up the entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our country’s massive, growing debt. 2013 should be the year to begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform."

The House Speaker said that approach to deficit reduction is something upon which Democrats and Republicans could agree.

"This framework can lead to common ground," Boehner continued. "The president and I had a brief conversation this week and I’m hopeful that we can continue those talks and forge an agreement that can pass both chambers of Congress.

"Because if there was a mandate in this election, it was a mandate to work together to do what’s in the best interest of our country. And right now what’s best is getting our economy moving again and keeping it moving, so we can begin to restore our children’s future."

On Friday, at his first public appearance since winning reelection, President Obama urged Congress to agree on a deficit-reduction plan that raises tax rates for households with a yearly income of $250,000 or more while keeping the current rate for the rest of the country.