House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) called into Michael Medved’s radio show just now to discuss the ongoing standoff over the payroll tax extension, and offered no indication that, as ABC’s Jon Karl is predicting, House Republicans will cave on the issue.
Boehner noted that he spoke with President Obama on the phone today, and told him “we can get this resolved” so long as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Senate Democrats return to Washington to negotiate a compromise. Unfortunately, Boehner said, “they’re not willing to do that.”
Medved asked Boehner about the possibility of the House adopting the Krauthammer-Murdock plan, and simply amending the Senate bill by changing the expiration date from February 29 to December 31, 2012. The speaker did not seem especially warm to the idea, noting that the legislation already passed by the House included not only a year-long extension of the payroll tax holiday, but also an extension of unemployment benefits (along with reforms to the program), as well as the so-called “doc fix,” which provides reimbursement to Medicare providers. That makes for a rather expensive proposition (about $200 billion). Simply extending the Senate bill for another eight months would leave a majority of that cost unpaid for. Boehner insisted that the extension “needs to be offset it terms of other government spending.”
The primary source of disagreement between the two sides, Boehner noted, is over how offset that cost. “Just changing the date on the bill just means were adding to the deficit and means we get no reforms to the unemployment insurance fund, which is also critically important,” he said, adding “we can come to some agreement over the offsets.”
House Republicans stand ready to work towards a deal, he said, having already appointed eight members to a potential conference committee that would, if Democrats go along, be charged with ironing out a compromise between the two chambers. “I told the president multiple times today, my members are here,” he said. “We’re willing to sit down and resolve these differences and the sooner we do it the better off we’ll be…We’ve got to resolve this, and I’m confident that we will.”