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Boehner Doesn’t Rule Out Rate Increase

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio did not rule out a compromise agreement to raise taxes as part of a deal to avert the fiscal cliff, but he kept the ball in President Barack Obama’s court when it comes to finding a way to get there.

Asked whether he could envision a middle ground on raising tax rates on high-income earners, perhaps increasing them to 37 percent instead of the 39.6 percent the president wants, Boehner did not rule it out outright.

“There are a lot of things that are possible to put the revenue that the president seeks on the table,” he said. “But none of it’s going to be possible if the president insists on his position, insists on ‘my way or the highway.’ And that’s not the way to get to an agreement.”

Nevertheless, he maintained that a rate increase would be detrimental to the economy.

Boehner held his cards close to his vest otherwise at a Friday morning news conference, telling reporters that there is “no progress to report” on the fiscal cliff negotiations.

Instead, he said the past week had been “wasted,” with the two camps not even speaking until Wednesday, when Obama and Boehner spoke over the phone in a call Boehner said was “more of the same.”

“This isn’t a progress report because there’s no progress to report,” Boehner said of the news conference.

Boehner maintained his assertion that to move forward, Obama must present an offer that can pass both chambers of Congress, now that both sides have traded opening bids.

Boehner said that his concession to put revenue on the table after the elections was an attempt to “take a step toward the president to try to resolve this. When is he going to take a step toward us?”

Aides have said that the lines of communications are now open, but little information has spilled out about whether a deal is any nearer.