As lawmakers in both chambers prepare to debate competing budget plans this week, much space remains between Democrats and Republicans on the best way to spur job growth while staving off a debt crisis.
While President Barack Obama’s outreach to members of Congress last week was a helpful relationship-building exercise, it did little to persuade the House Republican leader to put tax increases on the negotiating table.
“When you get down the bottom line, if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far,” Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
In his meetings with House and Senate Republicans last week, Obama told them that he was open to many compromises on entitlements if they would identify tax loopholes and other revenue raisers that they would accept.
Boehner said he agrees with Obama’s view that the country’s debt is not an imminent problem. However, they differ on whether policymakers should act now to rein in entitlement programs that are projected to run out of money in the coming years.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis, but we all know that we have one looming,” Boehner said.
Where Boehner said he and the president disagree is on whether a balanced budget is integral to the solution. Obama has said that economic growth is more important to him than evening out the country’s ledger.
House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan defended his plan’s dependence on the repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul as a down payment to balancing the budget, arguing that his party’s “vision document” offers the “necessary means to a healthier economy.”
“I hardly think that that’s retread,” the Wisconsin Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Boehner reiterated his trust in the president, despite a relationship defined by legislative deals that have fallen apart.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.