Reporting from Washington — House Republican leader John Boehner signaled Wednesday that he was unwilling to compromise on a permanent extension of the so-called Bush tax cuts, saying preserving current rates is "the most important thing we can do to create jobs."
Boehner, likely the next speaker of the House, said he would make that case to President Obama next week during a planned bipartisan, bicameral gathering at the White House.
"I've only said this about 500 times. I'm going to say it one more time. I think extending all of the current tax rates, and making them permanent, will reduce the uncertainty in America and help small businesses begin to create jobs again," he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Before the election, the White House called for an extension only of tax cuts for the middle class, and letting rates for higher earners expire as planned.
After an electoral drubbing, that stance has appeared to soften somewhat to consider a temporary two-year extension of all rates.
"At a time when we are going to ask folks across the board to make such difficult sacrifices, I don't see how we can afford to borrow an additional $700 billion from other countries to make all the Bush tax cuts permanent, even for the wealthiest 2% of Americans," Obama said in his weekly address.
In his first public appearance on the Hill since last week, Boehner also reiterated other priorities of his party's new majority, including a repeal of the healthcare reform law and cutting spending. One step to accomplish the latter should be a freeze on the federal workforce and of federal employee pay, he said.
Boehner also sought a symbolic distinction from the current speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, on at least one count. As third in line to the presidency, the House speaker has traditionally been afforded a military aircraft for long-distance trips – in Pelosi's case, most often to her San Francisco district. Her predecessor, Republican Denny Hastert, did the same for travel to his Illinois seat.
But Boehner said he would do without the perk.
"I have talked to our security folks about the security that's involved in my new role. But over the last 20 years, I have flown back and forth to my district on commercial aircraft. And I'm going to continue to do that," he said.
Boehner's comments came following a meeting with the House Republican Majority Transition Team.