House Speaker John Boehner says he does not expect Congress to complete extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for anyone before the November elections, because both Republican and Democratic leaders have dug in on their positions.
“It doesn't look to me likely that anything will get accomplished before the election,” the Ohio Republican told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Thursday. “It’s unfortunate, but I just don't see any willingness on the part of the Democrat-controlled Senate or President [Barack] Obama to try to resolve this issue before then.”
In the meantime, Boehner said the House would vote next week on the Democratic Senate-passed tax bill, which would extend the Bush-era tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 to most Americans, except those making over $250,000 a year. The bill also includes a 20 percent top rate on dividends and drops the estate tax back to 2009 levels.
That measure is expected to fail, since House Republicans plan to vote on their own bill that would extend the tax cuts across all income levels.
“The House will extend all of the existing tax rates,” Boehner said. “We’ve got 8 percent unemployment — we’ve got 41 months of it — this is not the time . . . to be raising taxes on American small businesses.”
Asked whether the Senate would take it up and pass it, the speaker replied, “Wouldn’t look that way, but hope springs eternal.”
Boehner blamed the Democrats and Obama for the dilemma, saying American taxpayers “shouldn’t have to wait until after the election to know what the tax rates are going to be for next year.”
He said nothing would likely change as long as control of the House and Senate remains split between the two parties and the Democrats control the White House.
“We’ve got a recipe here for being at loggerheads,” Boehner said.
“Our job is still to find common ground,” he added. “But you can’t do the tango by yourself. You’ve got to have a willing partner, and I’ve not had a willing partner.”
The speaker said he believes Obama could end up paying a price for not being more cooperative.
“His policies have failed. They’ve actually made things worse,” he said. “This election that’s coming up in November is going to be referendum on the president’s economic policies.”
Boehner also commented on the Justice Department investigation into the recent national security leaks, which Mitt Romney and other Republican leaders have suggested came from the White House in an effort to give the president a political advantage in his bid for re-election.
Boehner, however, stopped short of suggesting the leaks were orchestrated for campaign purposes, but he said he was concerned about where they came from and why they were leaked.
“I would hope that the administration would cooperate with the special counsels that have been appointed so that we can get to the bottom of this,” he said. “It’s a very serious problem.
“I don’t want to sit here and speculate as to why the information was leaked,” he added. “All I know is that it is going to put American lives in danger and . . . has disclosed some of our methods of operation, which our adversaries don’t need to know.”
The speaker was also asked to weigh in with his choice for Romney’s vice presidential running mate.
“You know, I’m partial to Rob Portman,” he said of the senator, citing their joint ties to Ohio and his long service in Washington as a congressman and a former Bush budget director and trade representative. “Knows is way around Washington, and I think he’d be a great asset.”
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