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Boehner Proposes Passing Spending Cuts Now

Updated: 11:51 a.m.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday proposed in an interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that Congress pass a catchall spending bill at 2008 levels before the November elections and called for an immediate two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts.

Boehner argued that extending the tax cuts across the board would give small-business owners confidence to start hiring again.

“We can’t deal with the deficit until we are willing to get our arms around spending and have a strong economy,” he said. “You can’t have a strong economy if you are raising taxes on the very people that you expect to invest in our economy to begin hiring people again.”

President Barack Obama and Congressional Democrats are in favor of extending tax cuts to the middle class but oppose extending them to the upper income brackets.

Peter Orszag, former head of the Office of Management and Budget, floated a proposal similar to Boehner’s in a New York Times column Tuesday.

“Higher taxes now would crimp consumer spending, further depressing the already inadequate demand for what firms are capable of producing at full tilt,” Orszag wrote. “No one wants to make an already stagnating jobs market worse for the next year or two, which is exactly what would happen if the cuts expire as planned.”

Boehner said passing a spending bill capped at 2008 levels would save taxpayers $100 billion this year alone.

The spending cap is mentioned in a more general way in the House Republican August recess packet, distributed by Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) at the beginning of the six-week break.

The packet says that “reducing spending from current levels and imposing a hard cap on future growth would generate savings for the taxpayer in excess of $340 billion.”

Boehner’s Wednesday interview pre-empted Obama’s speech in Cleveland scheduled for later Wednesday, the latest in a series of public exchanges between the White House and the Minority Leader.

Boehner, who spoke in Cleveland on Aug. 24, has spent the last month positioning himself as a foil to Obama and as the future Speaker.

Asked by ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday about the likelihood of his becoming Speaker, Boehner said, “Well, certainly, George, it’s possible. We have a steep hill to climb. We have a lot of work to do.”

Boehner also addressed the plan of a Florida pastor to burn copies of the Koran on Sept. 11, saying, “I just think it’s not wise to do this in the face of what our country represents.” Boehner used Stephanopoulos’ question about the Koran burning to also discourage construction of a mosque near New York’s ground zero.

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