Here is a complete transcript of House Speaker John A. Boehner’s remarks at a news conference on Nov. 9, 2012, concerning the fiscal cliff and tax reform. (Read more: Obama seeks middle-class tax freeze)
BOEHNER: Morning, everyone. Let me say how nice it is to see all of you. You know, on Wednesday I outlined a responsible path forward to avert the fiscal cliff without raising tax rates. About 24 hours after I spoke, the Congressional Budget Office released a report showing that the most harmful consequences of the fiscal cliff come from increasing tax rates. According to Ernst & Young, raising the top rates would destroy nearly 700,000 jobs in our country.
You know, the members of our majority understand how important it is to avert the fiscal cliff. It’s why the House took action earlier this year to replace the sequester with other types of cuts, and it’s also why over the summer we passed a bill to extend all of the current tax rates for one year so that we had time to overhaul our tax code.
And it’s why I outlined a responsible path forward where we can replace the spending cuts and extend the current rates, paving the way for entitlement reform, as well as tax reform, with lower rates.
BOEHNER: Now, 2013 should be the year we begin to solve our debt through tax reform and entitlement reform, and I’m proposing that we avert the fiscal cliff together in a manner that ensures that 2013 is finally the year that our government comes to grips with the major problems that are facing us.
This will bring jobs home and result in a stronger, healthier economy. And a stronger, healthier economy means more Americans working and more revenues, which is what the president is seeking.
This framework can lead to common ground, and I hope the president will respond today in that same spirit. As I said on Wednesday, this is an opportunity for the president to lead. This is his moment to engage the Congress and work towards a solution that can pass both chambers.
Earlier this week, the president and I had a short conversation. It was cordial. I think we both understand that trying to find a way to avert the fiscal cliff is important for our country, and I’m hopeful that productive conversations can begin soon so that we can forge an agreement that can pass the Congress.
And with that, I’ll be happy to answer some questions.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE). Do you think that when you start talking about some of these revenues (OFF-MIKE) statements from members (OFF- MIKE) from Louisiana, Duncan from South Carolina (OFF-MIKE) concern. You said (OFF-MIKE) conference call to members the other day that (OFF-MIKE). Do you see -- foresee those same problems when you start talking about some of these issues (OFF-MIKE)? There’s already a lot of skepticism (OFF-MIKE).
BOEHNER: When the president and I have been able to come to an agreement, there’s been no problem in getting it passed here in the House.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) outlined your goal of not having tax rates go up as part of the solution (OFF-MIKE) in your speech the other day. But you didn’t lay out the deficit goal (OFF-MIKE) talked about (OFF- MIKE) balance by 2017. What is the deficit goal that you have in mind (OFF-MIKE)?
BOEHNER: Well, clearly the deficit is a drag on our economy. And we can’t continue to spend money that we don’t have. I -- I don’t want to box myself in. I don’t want to box anybody else in. I think it’s important for us to come to an agreement with the president, but this is his opportunity to lead.
QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, going...
BOEHNER: Nope, nope, nope. You violated the rules.
QUESTION: Mr. Speaker, notably the other day you made a point of putting new revenues on -- at least on the table. Could you give us an idea -- any more ideas of where you’re going with that? Because if tax rates are not on the table, are you talking about going after deductions?
BOEHNER: It’s clear that there are a lot of special interest loopholes in the tax code, both corporate and personal. It’s also clear that -- that there’re all kinds of deductions, some of which make sense, others don’t.
And by lowering rates and cleaning up the tax code, we know that we’re gonna get more economic growth. It’ll bring jobs back to America. It’ll bring more revenue.
We also know that if we clean up the code and make it simpler, the tax code will be more efficient. The current code only collects about 85 percent of what’s due the government. And it’s clear that if you have a simpler, cleaner, a fairer tax code, that efficiency, the effectiveness and efficiency of the tax code increases exponentially. Jake?
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) of the president won re-election than Republicans were basically unable to get any seats for the Senate. More people voted for Democrats in the House than Republicans. Why do you have any leverage whatsoever?