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Boehner Optimistic About Deficit Panel

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said today that if the super committee comes to a deficit reduction agreement by its Nov. 23 deadline, it would pass Congress.

The Speaker, who twice walked away from negotiations for a sweeping deal with President Barack Obama this summer, has been one of the most vocal advocates of the panel’s work. In a media availability following a meeting with his caucus today, Boehner reiterated that he is hopeful for agreement, and he emphasized his support for tax code reform, such as the plan proffered by super committee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). Taking on taxes has been taboo in the GOP Conference, especially in the House, where a conservative bloc has been reticent to consider anything that might be construed as an increase.

“Both Democrats and Republicans — they’ve all done good work — and they’ve worked very hard. But there isn’t an agreement and I’m convinced that if there is, in fact, an agreement, that it would pass,” Boehner said, before praising a $1.2 trillion GOP plan that included $250 billion in tax code reform. “I think the offer that the Republicans put on the table is a fair offer — Toomey, something like Toomey. It’s important for us to, in my opinion, reform the tax code.”

The Ohio Republican called the Toomey plan “a step in the right direction,” but he noted “the details of how to get there are yet to be worked out.”

Super committee members have been in intense discussions over how to balance tax increases with cuts to entitlements, but Boehner also said the panel members are negotiating some job creation measures. However, it is unclear to what extent they are doing so, particularly with a week until their deadline and the major issues still unresolved.

Boehner said those job-creating issues, such as extending the payroll tax holiday, “are currently under discussion between members of the super committee as part of some options that they’re considering.” The Speaker’s characterization of such talks matched statements made late Monday night by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to a small group of reporters near the House chamber.

“Yes, that’s my understanding,” Pelosi said of jobs initiatives being included in the super committee talks. “I don’t really know because I’m not in the room, but I know that’s part of the priorities of our House Democrats — and the president’s [jobs] proposal.”

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