WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) drew sharp criticism from conservative groups Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America on Monday over reports that he agreed to make concessions to President Barack Obama on the debt ceiling and tax rates in ongoing negotiations to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.
The Washington Post reported Sunday that Boehner offered to take any fight over raising the debt ceiling limit off the table for one year. The news came on the heels of another report stating that the Ohio Republican also proposed a tax rate hike on those earning more than $1 million a year.
“First Speaker Boehner offered to raise tax rates after promising not to, and now he’s offering to raise the debt ceiling. Raising tax rates is anti-growth, and raising the debt ceiling is pro-government growth -– and this is the Republican position?” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola in a statement issued on Monday. “Raising the debt ceiling would give away one of the best tools the Republicans have in their arsenal to force real reform.”
“Raising the debt limit again simply kicks the can down the road,” he added. “Instead of raising the debt ceiling, the Republicans should use it to force President Obama and the Democrats to accept structural reforms to entitlements, which are the drivers of our debt.”
Separately, Heritage Action Communications Director Dan Holler wrote that the Boehner proposal, as detailed in reports, “represents a clear path toward surrender on conservative principles.”
“Rather than fighting for real reforms that would actually solve the problem, GOP negotiators seem intent on negotiating with themselves in hopes of striking a grand bargain that will ultimately fail, as so many others have before,” Holler said.
According to the AP, Boehner’s offer included $1 trillion in higher tax revenue over 10 years. His proposal to raise taxes on incomes over $1 million and a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing limit included the requirement that the president accept $1 trillion in spending cuts.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel immediately pushed back against any reported concessions on Sunday. “Our position has not changed,” Steel said in a statement. “Any debt limit increase would require cuts and reforms of a greater amount.”
The country could reach its $16.4 trillion debt limit by early February, posing the threat of a government shutdown. The president has requested the power to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling -- though Republicans have rejected this idea and signaled a willingness to engage in another debt limit showdown.
Both the Club for Growth and Heritage Action play influential roles in the Republican caucus. Their reactions only add to the mounting pressure on Boehner from both sides as he seeks an agreement with the president before the looming Dec. 31 deadline, when automatic spending cuts and across-the-board tax-rate increases are set to kick in.
Boehner also met with Obama for 45 minutes on Monday, but details of their meeting were not disclosed.