Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) says that he “absolutely” trusts President Obama, but is wary that a grand bargain on the deficit is attainable.
“I don't know whether we can come to a big agreement,” said Boehner in an interview aired Sunday on on ABC’s “This Week.”
Boehner’s comments come after Obama’s week-long effort to reach out to lawmakers from both parties. The president visited Capitol Hill to meet with Democrats and Republicans from both chambers on a wide range of issues, but with a focus on building a framework to reach a deficit deal.
But the talks also highlighted the split between the White House and Republicans, in particular over taxes. Obama is calling for new tax revenues in a deficit deal.
Earlier this week, Obama also told House Republicans that he opposed a 10-year balanced budget in a closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill, saying his focus was on boosting the economy and jobs.
But Boehner said that increasing taxes on Americans was a non-starter for Republicans, noting that the president won that battle at the start of the year with the expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for individuals making more than several hundred thousand dollars.
Boehner said that of President Obama “believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”
“If the president doesn't believe that the goal oughta be to balance the budget over the next ten years-- I don't-- not sure we're gonna get very far,” Boehner cautioned.
The House and Senate are both set to vote on their respective budget proposals this week, but neither plan is expected to pass in the other chamber.
Boehner, though, suggested that the House and Senate budgets could at least move forward talks on a deficit deal.
“If we do -- it'll be between the two parties on Capitol Hill. Hopefully, we can go to conference on these budgets and hope springs eternal in my mind,” he said.
The No. 2 ranking Senate Democrat Dick Durbin (Mich.) on Sunday also said the House and Senate budget blueprints presented an opportunity for deal-making between the parties.
“We’ve got to pass this budget resolution in the Senate … and then we’re going to move to the next stage, and that is the grand bargain stage, that’s what the president is trying to set up, both sides sitting down on a bipartisan basis not trying to eliminate Medicare … putting revenues on the table that are fair … and making sure it’s a balanced approach,” Durbin said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Despite his contention that he has a “very good relationship” with President Obama, Boehner though said a grand bargain will be tough to achieve.
“We’re trying to bridge some big differences,” Boehner noted, adding that though the country is not facing “an immediate debt crisis,” in light of the changes that Congress has taken over the past few years. But he warned that there is a major crisis “looming,” in the “entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form.”
Fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on “Fox News Sunday” however that his party may be open to creating revenue with tax reform, if Democrats are open to making structural changes in entitlements such as Medicare.
“I think Republicans if they saw true entitlement reform would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenues, and that doesn't mean increasing rates that means closing loopholes, that also means arranging our tax system so that we have economic growth,” Corker said.
Corker said there was a window for a grand bargain occurring within the next four to five months.