May 16, 2012 in Nation/World

Boehner: Fight on debt will return

Vows effort to save Bush-era tax cuts
David Lightman McClatchy
Associated Press photo

House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
(Full-size photo)

WASHINGTON – House Speaker John Boehner set the stage Tuesday for another tense, partisan showdown over tax and spending policy later this year, as he vowed to insist on big spending cuts before he will agree to a new debt ceiling – much like last summer’s debt showdown debacle – and he also promised a vote before November’s elections on whether to prevent Bush-era tax cuts from expiring at year’s end, as scheduled.

Boehner’s address to a Washington budget forum had chilling echoes of the 2011 clash over increasing the debt ceiling, a weekslong standoff between the Obama White House and Republicans in the House of Representatives that roiled financial markets, led to a downgrade of federal credit and nearly forced much of the government to close.

Another vote on raising the debt ceiling is expected later this year, probably after the Nov. 6 elections. Boehner on Tuesday pledged to make it an “action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction. … When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase. This is the only avenue I see right now to force the elected leadership of this country to solve our structural fiscal imbalance.”

The Ohio Republican also pledged to fight to extend Bush-era tax cuts, now set to expire at the end of this year, and called on President Barack Obama to join him. “If there’s one action-forcing event that trumps all the rest – even the debt limit – it’s presidential leadership,” Boehner said.

Democrats scoffed.

“The last thing the country needs is a rerun of last summer’s debacle that nearly brought down our economy,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee.

The White House was somewhat more measured.

“Everyone except for elected members of Congress, the Republican Party, agrees with that general proposition that we need to take a balanced approach to our deficit and debt challenges,” spokesman Jay Carney said. “A balanced approach” to deficit reduction is Democratic shorthand for a package including tax increases as well as spending cuts.

Boehner flatly rejected higher taxes.

“Any sudden tax hike would hurt our economy, so this fall – before the election – the House of Representatives will vote to stop the largest tax increase in American history,” Boehner said, referring to the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts.

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