The media’s hyperventilating over this as an early sign that the House GOP has been chastised by last night’s presidential/Senate whupping. (WaPo.com’s front-page headline: “A quick pivot after election.”) But … isn’t this always what Boehner says when asked about a grand bargain?
Republicans are “willing to accept new revenue” to tame the soaring national debt and avert an ugly battle over the approaching “fiscal cliff,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said Wednesday in a speech that offered a potential path to compromise in year-end budget negotiations…
In exchange, however, Boehner said Democrats must not “continue to duck the matter of entitlements,” referring to the rising cost of Social Security and federal health programs, which he called “the root of the problem.”
Here’s what he said in April 2011, three months after becoming Speaker:
If considering revenue increases leads to a big 2012 budget deal for Republicans then so be it, Speaker John Boehner told me.
“I’ll put everything on the table. I think Washington has a spending problem. I don’t think it has a revenue problem. I’m not interested in raising taxes on the American people. But if it takes leaving it on the table to have the conversation, I’ll have the conversation,” he told me.
Here he is in November 2011:
“There’s room for revenue but there clearly is a limit to the revenues that may be available” to help reach the congressionally mandated target of cutting government deficits by at least $1.2 trillion, Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters yesterday in Washington…
“Without real reform on the entitlement side, I don’t know how you put any revenue on the table,” Boehner said. The speaker said he “made this clear” to President Barack Obama during failed negotiations on deficit-reduction bargain in July.
Annnnnd here he is in June of this year, in the course of comparing raising new revenue to giving a drug addict another fix:
The Speaker replied: “Well, in negotiations with the president, I had additional revenues on the table. Revenues out of economic growth. Revenues out of a more efficient tax system. Revenues out of what I’ll call opportunity costs from having certainty about what the tax code looks like.”
But Boehner appeared to shut the door on raising taxes.
He famously agreed to $800 billion in new revenue as part of a deficit deal with The One last year before O allegedly demanded more, causing the deal to collapse. So why rehash all of this today? Well, investors wet themselves this afternoon over the fact that two more years of divided government means a compromise on the “fiscal cliff” will be difficult. Now that O’s reelected, he’ll spend the next month pointing to polls on the Bush tax cuts and accusing the House GOP of ignoring the “mandate” he got on tax hikes last night. (Biden is already pushing this point specifically; Boehner, in his own speech last night, pushed back hard on it.) Today’s comments are Boehner’s way of preempting Obama and signaling to the public that he’s not opposed to all deals involving more tax revenue, just ones that involve rate hikes. His problem is that Obama “wins” a stalemate here because inaction means the current rates will lapse automatically. Granted, the higher tax rates and automatic spending cuts from sequestration would probably push the economy back into recession, but why would a lame duck like O care about that? Didn’t he just win an election by convincing the country that Mitt Romney is worse than he is? If he can convince them that Republicans caused the next recession by sticking up for the rich, he just might be able to parlay it into Democratic House gains in 2014. Elections have consequences, none more so than last night’s.
Here’s Boehner talking to CNN a few days ago about the cliff. He told them he expects they’ll reach a short-term deal to buy time for work on a grander grand bargain, hopefully involving tax code reform.