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Boehner Criticizes Taxes, Questions Constitutionality of Regulations

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today dismissed the possibility of including a tax increase on the wealthy or corporations in any jobs plan that passes the House, instead stressing deregulation of businesses as the key to economic growth.

In a speech before the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Boehner largely dismissed President Barack Obama’s jobs plan.

“Some of the president’s proposals offer opportunities for common ground. But let’s be honest with ourselves. The president’s proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America, … the policies that are needed to put America back to work,” Boehner said.

Boehner, in a marked shift from his conciliatory language earlier in the week, accused Obama of simple electioneering in how he developed his proposal. He said the bill is filled with “initiatives that seem to have more to do with the next election than the next generation … initiatives that seem to be more about micromanaging economic decisions than liberating them.”

The Speaker said the only thing that would lead to job creation would be removing regulations that businesses large and small have to follow. “The current regulatory burden coming out of Washington far exceeds the federal government’s constitutional mandate. And it’s hurting job creation in our country at a time when we can’t afford it,” he said.

Boehner also explicitly ruled out the possibility of increasing taxes as part of the work of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction set up under the debt agreement.

“Tax increases … are not a viable option for the Joint Committee,” Boehner said, while insisting that any changes to the tax code must reduce taxes even as they broaden the tax base.

Significantly, the Ohio Republican also took direct aim at conservative critics of the super committee, dismissing their complaints that the panel’s long-term focus will not result in real spending cuts.

“There is a myth that spending reforms aren’t ‘real’ unless they happen this year,” Boehner said. “That myth is built on a healthy skepticism that spending cuts made today are going to be implemented tomorrow. But it is a myth nonetheless, and we need to make sure it doesn’t stop us from doing what needs to be done.”

He did leave the door open to infrastructure spending being a part of the jobs agenda, but connected that to the GOP’s energy production demands.

“I’m not opposed to responsible spending to repair and improve infrastructure. But if we want to do it in a way that truly supports long-term economic growth and job creation, let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production,” Boehner said.

Even there, Boehner wove regulatory reform arguments into his comments. “Removing some of the unnecessary government barriers that prevent our country from utilizing its vast energy resources could create millions of new jobs,” the Speaker said.

Despite heavy criticism of Obama’s jobs plan as unworkable and questioning the constitutionality of the administration’s governance, Boehner ended the speech with a return to House GOP leaders’ new bipartisan tack.

“Our economy is facing a broad-based, systemic crisis. As such, it will require everyone coming to the table with their best ideas first and leaving politics at the door, with the courage to listen to each other’s critiques and questions,” Boehner said.

“It means ending the name-calling, the yelling and the questioning of others’ motives. Leadership is about ending that nonsense, buckling down and getting to work,” he added.

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