‘Mr. President, this is your moment’
In the wake of President Barack Obama’s reelection, Speaker of the House John Boehner told fellow Republicans it is time to find compromise on tax increases and reform to avoid plunging into fiscal crisis.
Between now and January, Congress faces a multi-headed hydra known as the fiscal cliff: more than one trillion in automatic defense and domestic budget cuts and the expiration of the George W. Bush package of tax breaks.
As if to accentuate the fiscal uncertainty of another four years of Obama, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged nearly 300 points on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also took sharp hits.
In a press briefing at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon, Boehner said the situation was untenable.
“After years of punting on the fiscal challenges we face, 2013 is going to be different,” he said. “We won’t solve the problem of our fiscal imbalance overnight. What we can do is avert the cliff in a manner that serves as a downpayment on and a catalyst for major solutions in 2013.”
He recalled the fiscal compromises and reform struck by President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill in 1986, and told Republicans that a balanced approach would include willingness to consider new tax increases, as well as real cuts to entitlements
“Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and (Rep.) Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) offered substantive proposals in the Supercommittee last year that provided revenue as well as tax reform,” Boehner said. “… Let’s start the discussion there. I am suggesting find common ground where it exists.”
Hensarling, the co-chair of the 2011 Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, or Supercommittee, has faulted Obama for the committee’s failure, saying the $1 trillion in tax increases to offset his changes to health care spending proved unacceptably high, while still leaving the nation with snowballing debt.
Boehner also leveled a challenge to Obama, calling on him to take the lead in finding compromise.
“Mr. President, this is your moment,” he said. “We’re ready to be led. Not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans.”