House Speaker John Boehner wants the "Super Committee" on deficit reduction to lay the groundwork for a major overhaul to the tax code as part of its $1.5 trillion deficit reduction plan it is expected to propose by Thanksgiving, and he wants the plan to include a mix of spending cuts and changes to popular social programs.
In a high-profile speech today at the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner said businesses and job creators are facing a "triple threat" from government with too many burdensome regulations, out of control spending and a tax code that "discourages investment and rewards special interests."
He said that job creators are "slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating."
Boehner said that he knows it is unrealistic that the committee can overhaul the entire U.S. code in just a couple months, but he said that the committee could lay out a plan to lower corporate and individual tax rates while at the same time eliminating certain tax deductions and carve outs in the tax code.
But the Ohio Republican made clear that tax increases must be off the table for the committee.
"It's a very simple equation" Boehner said. "Tax increases destroy jobs. And the Joint Committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country."
House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor wrote to President Obama today and said that his American Jobs Act provisions "merit consideration." The top House Republicans maintained their conciliatory tone of the past week in the letter, but did not endorse any of the President's proposals, demanded more details and made clear they won't just sit back and "pass the bill" as the President urged Congress to do so many times last night.
After receiving legislative text and a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the president's bill, "the House and our committees will immediately begin the process of reviewing and considering your proposals" they wrote. But Boehner and Cantor warned that House members will also "identify modifications and additional ideas that could achieve economic and job growth in a manner that may be more impactful or effective."
They wrote that in addition to reviewing Obama's proposals, the House will continue to move forward with its fall agenda which includes removing regulations that they say are a burden to American businesses.
Mr. Obama began his tour of the country today in Richmond, Virginia, the home district of Majority Leader Eric Cantor, to sell his plan that would include tax cuts to small business for hiring new workers, an extension and expansion of the payroll tax holiday, new infrastructure spending and the passage of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama so that more American goods could be sold in those countries.
With the exception of the House Republican conference chairman, top leadership Republicans have held their fire on the American Jobs Act so far saying that they are waiting to see the actual legislative language and the President's deficit reduction proposal.
But the letter from Boehner and Cantor makes clear that House Republicans will likely cherry pick items from Obama's proposals that Republicans can stomach, like some of the business tax breaks, but leave most of the new spending out.
"As we are certain your advisers have told you, not all your ideas should be packaged in a single legislative vehicle" they wrote. "We share your desire for bipartisan cooperation, and assume that your ideas were not presented as an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather in anticipation that the Congress may also have equally as effective proposals to offer for consideration."
Republicans and Democrats emerged from the joint session of Congress tonight with mixed reviews of the President Obama's speech unveiling the "American Jobs Act."
Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who is the co-chair of the congressional "super committee" tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings to reduce the deficit, immediately came out against the president's proposal for the committee to find additional savings to offset the cost of his jobs plan.
"This proposal would make the already-arduous challenge of finding bipartisan agreement on deficit reduction nearly impossible, removing our options for deficit reduction for a plan that won't reduce the deficit by one penny" Hensarling said in statement released after the speech. "It's not the role of this committee to spend more money we don't have on jobs we don't get."
But Democrats largely praised the plan. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said the speech hit just the right tone.Continue »
The Washington Monument will remain closed indefinitely after yesterday's earthquake rocked much of the east coast including the nation's Capitol. The 5.8 magnitude earthquake damaged the monument by creating a four foot long crack as wide as one inch in some places at the very top of the monument.
National Park service Spokesman Bill Line said that a structural engineering firm was brought in today to begin assessing the damage to the 550-foot structure. The firm will evaluate the crack and submit a report to the National Park Service outlining the problems to the structure along with recommendations for repairs. The Park Service will then have to decide which recommendation is best.Continue »
High school juniors running around the Capitol wearing navy blazers and grey slacks and skirts were a regular sighting on Capitol Hill. The pages were there whenever the House was in session. They filled the elevators to maximum capacity, slammed the cafeteria in the basement all at the same time and wandered the marble halls in herds.
The pages also had official duties. During the semester they spent learning the ways of Washington at the U.S. Capitol, the students delivered messages and packages to members on the House Floor, answered phones in the cloak rooms and attended Page School to keep up on their regular high school courses. The pages all lived in the House Page Residence Hall conveniently located just a few blocks from the Capitol.
Updated 6:09 p.m. Eastern Time
The House Republican leadership appears to have found a way to get their members to vote in favor of their debt limit plan: By adding a Balanced Budget Amendment requirement that makes the bill even more toxic to Senate Democrats and the White House. Even before the change, Democrats had vowed to vote down the bill.
House Speaker John Boehner took to the Senate floor Friday afternoon shortly before the planned vote, saying he has "worked since the first week of this session... to avoid being where we are right this moment."
Boehner said he "stuck my neck out a mile to try to get an agreement with the President of the United States," but that "a lot of people in this town can never say yes." To cheers from his caucus, he called on Democrats and the White House to "tell you where you are."
"End this crisis now," he said.
Following a closed-door meeting of the House GOP Friday morning, Republican Reps. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Phil Gingrey of Georgia and Jeff Landry of Louisiana said they had gone from a "no" to a "yes" on Boehner's plan to increase the debt limit - and it appeared several other members had also come on board. The House leadership cancelled a planned vote on the bill last night after it became clear that they could not win enough votes from hardline fiscal conservatives for passage.
What changed? Members say the new version of the bill ties a second debt ceiling increase roughly six months from now to successfully sending a Balanced Budget Amendment to the states, something that would require a 2/3 majority in both the House and the Senate.
A vote on the new version of Boehner's plan will be held today around 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time - and the bill is expected to pass.
But from talking to members, the freshmen and fiscal conservatives have three major concerns with Boehner's plan to give the president a debt limit increase in two phases. Around $1 trillion now and another $1.5 trillion after Congress passes a package of bigger cuts at the end of this year. They want a balanced budget amendment, they don't trust that the Joint Committee will effectively slash spending and they see the immediate spending cuts -- just $24 billion in FY 2012 -- as too low.
The first concern is that members do not want to wait until the fall to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. Their preferred legislation, Cut, Cap and Balance, would make the debt limit increase contingent on Congress sending balanced budget amendment to the states. So not only would there need to be a vote, it would need to get the 2/3 in both the House and Senate to be sent to the states.Continue »
As negotiations over deficit reduction and raising the debt ceiling continue, Pelosi reiterated today that Democrats are opposed to making cuts to Social Security benefits.
When asked if changing the Social Security formula for cost of living adjustments was a de facto benefit cut, Pelosi did not directly answer.Continue »
Majority leader Harry Reid will sit down with the president in the morning and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will have his own meeting with the president in the afternoon.
"It is my hope that the President requested this meeting in order to finally explain what it is that he's prepared to do to solve our nation's fiscal crisis" McConnell said in a statement. "He's requested an increase in the debt ceiling, but hasn't yet explained to the American people what, other than tax hikes, he's prepared to do about the massive deficits we've seen during his administration. The President needs to decide between his goal of massive tax hikes, and a bipartisan plan to address our deficit. But he can't have both."Continue »
Updated 9:13 p.m. ET
House GOP leadership went into an afternoon conference meeting today to discuss the two different Libya resolutions with members that they hoped to bring to the floor tomorrow.
The first resolution would authorize military operations in Libya with language similar to a Senate proposal from Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass. This was, and still is, expected to fail with opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. That's despite bipartisan support for the measure in the Senate.
The other resolution, which is favored by the House GOP leadership, would direct the president to withdraw forces from hostile actions in Libya, but allow certain operations to continue like aerial refueling, intelligence and operational planning.Continue »
Leaders started by saying little when the New York Democrat made the case that he was hacked, but could not be sure if a racy photograph of a man in his underwear was him or not.
There were no calls for Weiner to step down last Monday after he admitted to sending the photo publicly to a Washington State college student over Twitter though Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi did call for an Ethics Committee investigation.Continue »
"Should he resign? My answer is yes," Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.) said when confronted by a scrum of reporters as he went in to a regularly scheduled meeting of House Democrats to discuss issues of the day, including the role of speculators in the oil markets.Continue »
Updated at 6:52 p.m.
The bricks are crumbling for Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), the House Democrat in charge of recruiting top notch candidates to run for the House of Representatives in 2012, is the first House Democrat calling for Weiner to resign.
"Having the respect of your constituents is fundamental for a Member of Congress. In light of Anthony Weiner's offensive behavior online, he should resign," Schwartz said in a prepared statement.
And Maine Representative Michael Michaud (D-ME) is also saying it would be best for Rep. Weiner's family to step aside.
Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) and Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) hopped on the bandwagon later Wednesday.
Updated 4:50 p.m. Eastern Time
In an interview with CBS News Wednesday, New York Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner repeatedly refused to deny that his crotch is seen in a lewd photograph sent to a college student from his Twitter account.
Weiner did say explicitly that he did not send the photo.
"I did not, this was a prank, a hoax," he told CBS News' Congressional Correspondent Nancy Cordes.
He said his "system was hacked into," noting that "we've retained a firm that is going to take a look at the Internet security that to make sure this does not happen again." Weiner said the firm would try to find out "exactly what happened."
But Weiner would not say that he is not pictured in the photograph, prompting Cordes to say, "it sounds like it was a photo of you." Weiner responded, "well, we're going to try to find out exactly what happened."Continue »
With the House GOP Medicare reform plan dominating political discourse since the House GOP budget passed in April, a special election lost to Democrats in a conservative GOP stronghold and unemployment still at 9 percent, House Republicans attempted to turn the page today by introducing an agenda to create jobs.
At a press conference this morning unveiling the proposal, Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that this effort will show voters the contrast between Republicans and Democrats.Continue »