House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) echoed the message of his speech at the Economic Club of New York earlier this week. Republicans, he said, wanted “real changes” in terms of spending cuts and budget reforms in exchange for raising the federal debt ceiling, though failed to provide any details at to what those might entail.
Asked whether he would support something like the CAP Act introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), the speaker was less than enthusiastic. “I don’t want to tie myself down in terms of what those are,” he said. “But I don’t want phony caps, I don’t want phony targets. We know what the challenges are. Why don’t we go tackle the problems?”
“All the gimmicks that have been used in the past have never worked,” he added. “Congress has found a way to wiggle out of all of them.”
And he continued to insist that entitlement spending be part of the conversation. “If we’re going to put America’s fiscal house in order, it’s time to make real changes to preserve these entitlement programs that are very important,” he said. “We know they’re unaffordable, and if we don’t do anything, seniors are going to see cuts, and no one wants to see cuts in these programs.”
With oil company executives on Capitol Hill today to testify before the Senate Finance Committee, the speaker touched on a Democratic proposal to eliminate tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry (The Editors weigh in here). “We all know that going after oil companies is easy politics,” he said. “But we also know if this bill were to pass it wouldn’t lower gas prices one penny.” Even some Democrats agree.
Boehner said the elimination of various tax loopholes enjoyed by corporations ought to be considered, but only as part of a comprehensive tax-reform package that would allow for a decrease in the overall corporate-tax rate, which is the second highest in the world. “If we want to put Americans back to work, I think lowering the corporate-tax rate is critically important,” he said. “And to do that we have to look at the tax expenditure side — the deductions, credits, and other gimmicks that may be in the tax code that have accumulated over the last 30 years.”
“Companies don’t pay taxes, their customers pay taxes for them,” he said. “Because the people who buy their goods and services are the ones who eventually see those increased taxes in the price of the goods and services they get.”