House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks from Capitol Hill on Nov. 7, 2012.(Photo: Brendan Hoffman, Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- The elections Tuesday may have secured a second term for
President Obama while strengthening Democrats' control of the Senate,
but judging from their reactions Wednesday, House Republicans don't seem
any more willing to give ground on the economic battles ahead.
lame-duck session that starts next week will force Washington to
grapple with the expiration of $500 billion in tax cuts and the first
wave of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.
reach any kind of consensus, the two parties will have to figure out
whether to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Obama said
throughout his campaign that tax hikes are necessary, but House Speaker
John Boehner tried to strike a conciliatory tone while shooting down the
possibility of any tax hikes.
are two paths we can take to get the revenue the president seeks,"
Boehner said. "Feeding the growth of government through higher tax rates
won't help us solve the problem. Feeding the growth of our economy
through a better and cleaner tax code will."
With some races still
undecided Wednesday, Democrats had picked up seven seats in the House.
But Republicans retained control of the chamber with 235 seats to the
One of the big questions coming out of the
election was whether the House leadership would change the course
established in 2010 after a wave of Tea Party-backed freshmen came in
opposing any tax increases and much of Obama's agenda.
Wednesday, Boehner, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Republican
Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan all called for a compromise to keep
the U.S. from going over the so-called "fiscal cliff." But, as McCarthy
explained, they want a compromise that "avoids raising taxes on the
American people and job creators."
A group of conservative leaders
meeting in Washington was more blunt. "It's a simple formula," said
Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center. "When you compromise
in their direction, you lose. When you compromise in our direction, you
The two sides are facing an epic battle in the final weeks
of the year. Almost every tax cut enacted since 2001 will expire on Dec.
31, including the Bush-era tax cuts, the 2009 stimulus tax cuts and
others. Two days later, the first $110 billion of a planned $1.2
trillion in spending cuts over 10 years, known as the "fiscal cliff," is
scheduled to kick in.
Despite the calls from conservative groups
for House Republicans to hold their ground, some warned that refusing to
negotiate could force the U.S. into an economic meltdown.
Engler, the former Republican governor of Michigan and president of the
Business Roundtable, a group of more than 200 CEOs, said it's crucial
for Washington to remove a cloud of uncertainty that's been hovering
over U.S. businesses.
"The president, I believe, has won a
mandate," Engler said Wednesday. "I think the Republicans, while being
the loyal opposition, are in the minority in government and are going to
have to do as the business community and others interested in the
country moving ahead, and that's work together to get some of this
nation's big problems behind us."
Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., said
the reaction of House Republicans showed they were not interested in a
responsible compromise. "We need tax reform, but not as an excuse for
continued stalemate as the fiscal cliff approaches," said Levin, a
member of the Ways and Means Committee.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney,
R-S.C., said it was up to Obama to take the first step in negotiations,
because Mulvaney and his Tea Party colleagues plan on maintaining their
budget-cutting priorities. "I don't think that attitude has changed
because the facts haven't changed," he said. "Either we'll deal with it
or we won't."