Boehner: Debt committee could recommend tax hikes


House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged Monday that tax increases may be recommended by a bipartisan committee on deficit reduction to be created as part of the deal to increase the debt ceiling, though he called it a "stretch" they would be included.

"I think that that would be a stretch," Boehner told CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor Scott Pelley. "Doesn't seem likely to me that that would even be recommended, much less supported," Boehner said.

He added: "But I have been surprised before."

The acknowledgement of possible tax increases contrasts with Boehner's claim to members of his caucus that revenue increases from the committee, which would seek $1.5 trillion in savings, would be "impossible" because of the baseline the committee will use. The White House maintained that revenue increases were on the table.

Pelley also asked Boehner this: "The grand bargain that the president talked about was a much larger deal. Trillions more in tax cuts, revenue increases that the president wanted and an opportunity to reform Medicare, an opportunity to reform Social Security. Wasn't that worth gambling over? Wasn't that worth compromising for?"

Replied Boehner: "I always believed and the President always believed that the grand bargain, as you describe it, would probably be an easier bill to pass in both houses of Congress and you could do it on a bipartisan basis. But understand, we never got to the grand bargain."

He continued. "Why? Because it never got to be grand. If there were a grand bargain, if the numbers that were kicked around were real, we would have gotten an agreement. The problem is that the President wanted to increase taxes on the American people at the very time when this was the last thing we should be doing. And secondly when it came to the kind of reductions in these entitlement programs and fundamental changes to them, the President was never really willing to go as far as he should."