ByÂ Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times
House SpeakerÂ John A. Boehner on Thursday ruled out tax increases as an option for the deficit supercommittee, but in a broad speech laying out his goals forÂ Congress, he urged the 12-member panel to lay the groundwork for a full rewrite of the U.S. tax code.
In a speech that effectively marked theÂ GOPâ€™s response to PresidentObamaâ€™s address to a joint session ofÂ Congress last week,Â Mr. Boehnercategorically ruled out a government shutdown or debt default on his watch, called for a new highway-funding bill to be combined with one to expand U.S. energy exploration, and warned of a long-lasting spiral of economic and social decline.
He also rejected the outlines of the presidentâ€™s job stimulus plan, saying that instead of carving out tax breaks, lawmakers on the deficit supercommittee should focus on a total rewrite of the tax code that frees up businesses. He also said it must be done without tax increases.
â€œI think tax reform should deal with the whole tax code, both the personal side and the corporate side, and it should result in a code that is simpler and fairer to everyone,â€ he said. â€œNow tax increases, I think, are off the table, and I donâ€™t think they are a viable option for the joint committee.â€
The Ohio Republican drew several lines in the sand, including asserting there will be no government shutdown or debt default on his watch â€” a signal to his own party not to delay stopgap funding due by the end of this month.
Grim economic news has dominated Washington since lawmakers returned from their summer recess, and all sides are intent on focusing on job creation.
The president last week called for nearly $450 billion in tax cuts and spending in the near term, which he said could spur jobs and help right the economy. This week, he proposed paying for that package through nearly $470 billion in long-term tax increases â€” most of which have deep bipartisan opposition.
Still, House Minority LeaderÂ Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said Thursday that her members are united behind the proposed spending and said Republicans should put the presidentâ€™s jobs package on the floor for a vote.
â€œOn the steps of the Capitol, Democrats stood together enthusiastically in support of the American Jobs Act and its passage now,â€ she said. â€œIn fact, people are standing in line and on the steps of the Capitol trying to be the ones to be the first sponsors of the legislation.â€
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