House GOP leaders prepare for fiscal cliff talks
Updated On: Nov 15 2012 04:21:33 AM CST
House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday stuck to his post-election tone of saying he wants to come to agreement with President Barack Obama to avert the fiscal cliff, and he moved to set up a team of House Republicans to help negotiate the details.
"If you've looked closely at what the president had to say and looked closely at what I've had to say, there are no barriers here to sitting down and beginning to work through this process," Boehner told reporters at a press conference on Capitol Hill after House GOP members re-nominated him to his position for the next Congress.
Boehner added, "I don't think anyone on either side of the aisle underestimates the difficulty that faces us but I do think that the spirit of cooperation that you've seen over the last week, from myself and my team, from Democrats across the aisle, from the President, have created an atmosphere where I think that I'll remain optimistic."
But as he's done every time he's publicly addressed the issue, the Speaker restated his opposition to allowing any of the current tax rates to go up. "There are ways to put revenue on the table without increasing tax rates. We've talked about this now for over a year."
Rep Eric Cantor, R-Virginia, the number two House Republican, echoed the dual message of reaching out, but drawing the line on taxes.
"We say to this president we want to work with you on solutions. We don't understand why raising tax rates is the solution if you want to see people get back to work," Cantor said.
Reporters pressed for greater detail about how much revenue could be raised through closing loopholes, but Boehner said discussing any specifics would "not be conducive to trying to come to an agreement with the White House."
Boehner established a group of key Republicans to help prepare for negotiations with the White House and congressional Democrats.
He tapped former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who chairs the House Budget Committee, and two other committee chairmen -- Rep. Dave Camp, who heads the tax writing committee, and Rep. Fred Upton, who chairs the panel overseeing major entitlement programs -- to help top leaders weigh various proposals.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel explained these three will join Boehner and the other top House GOP leaders in their regular leadership sessions.
"In preparation for the fiscal cliff talks, the speaker has added Ryan, Upton and Camp to the daily management meetings, in addition to the 'Big Four' that have always been included," Steel said.
House conservatives have indicated that they want Ryan to play a major role in the upcoming negotiations.
Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, who heads a group of fiscal conservatives in the House, said of Ryan on Wednesday, "I hope he's front and center in this debate."
Previewing the fierce fight ahead on the issue of taxes, House conservatives pushed back at Democrats who argue that President Obama's re-election was a vote in support of making wealthier Americans pay higher taxes.
"He has a mandate to talk about it and we have a mandate to fight it," Idaho Republican Raul Labrador said of the President. "I think that's what the American people elected us to do, and we will continue to fight any member of our conference that decides that this is a good time to raise taxes."
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