Boehner Dodges Question on Negotiability of Tax Increases and Spending Cuts

By Nicholas Ballasy | May 12, 2011 | 3:18 PM EDT

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked today whether his stated positions -- that he will not agree to raise taxes as part of a deal to increase the debt limit and that any increase in that limit must be balanced with even bigger cuts in spending -- were non-negotiable positions.

He did not answer directly. asked Speaker Boehner: “You told the President that you would not agree to raising taxes and you’ve also said that any spending cuts, cuts in spending in Congress should be more than the debt limit increase. Are those non-negotiable positions for you?”

“Let me just say this. I think this is the moment and this is the opportunity for America to get its fiscal house in order. I believe that raising taxes on the very people that we expect to reinvest in our economy and to hire people is the wrong idea. For those people to give that money to the government, that means it won’t get re-invested in our economy at a time when we’re trying to create jobs,” he said during his weekly press briefing on Thursday at the Capitol.

“Secondly, if we’re going to put America’s fiscal house in order, it’s time to make real changes to preserve these entitlement programs that are very important but having said that, we know they’re unaffordable and if we don’t do anything, seniors are going to see cuts and no one wants to see cuts in these programs. We’ve got to make real changes to put them on a sound fiscal foundation and that’s my goal as we get into this negotiation.” then followed up by asking the question again, via email, to Boehner Spokesman Michael Steel, who also did not directly answer it.

House Speaker John Boehner (AP photo/Evan Vucci)

During his speech to the Economic Club of New York on Monday, Boehner said he “directly” told the President he would not agree to any tax increases.

“Today some seem intent on recycling the 1990 budget deal, only this time with much larger tax increases,” Boehner said Monday in New York. “That's not going to happen, and I've told that to the president directly.”

He also said Congress should cut spending by more than they increase the debt limit.

“Let me be as clear as I can be,” he said. “Without significant spending cuts and reforms to reduce our debt, there will be no debt limit increase. And the cuts should be greater than the accompanying increase in debt authority the president is given.