By Russell Berman – The Hill
In a warning to President Obama, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday night that the reelection of the House Republican majority means that there is “no mandate for raising tax rates” on the American people.
Boehner delivered brief remarks to a subdued crowd of Republicans in Washington who watched as Obama won key early states on the road to a possible reelection victory Tuesday.
While the Speaker has in recent days predicted a victory for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, he made no such declaration shortly before 10 p.m. on Tuesday, after the House was projected to stay in GOP hands.
“I want to thank Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who have carried the banner of our party with grace, vision, strength and dignity,” Boehner said to cheers from the crowd.
Boehner described the House GOP majority over the last two years as “the primary line of defense” against a government that “spends too much, taxes too much and certainly borrows too much.”
“The American people want solutions — and tonight, they’ve responded by renewing our House Republican majority,” Boehner said. “With this vote, the American people have also made clear that there is no mandate for raising tax rates.”
The Speaker made no mention of Obama in his remarks, which lasted just about three minutes.
“What Americans want are solutions that will ease the burden on small businesses, bring jobs home and let our economy grow,” he said. “We stand ready to work with any willing partner — Republican, Democrat or otherwise — who shares a commitment to getting these things done.”
Congress must move immediately from the election to confront looming tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect at the end of the year. Boehner’s remarks on taxes serve as a warning shot to Obama, who, if reelected, would likely push to allow the George W. Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire.
Boehner’s words will be closely scrutinized in the coming days if Obama wins, and it was notable that he specified that he saw no mandate for “tax rate” increases.
That could leave the door open to Republicans agreeing to increase tax revenue through the closing of loopholes and deductions in a fiscal deal, which some GOP leaders have conceded the party would need to do if Obama wins reelection.
Organizers of the Republican National Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee party in D.C. expected as many as 3,000 people to attend Tuesday night’s gathering, although the actual attendance appeared to number no more than several hundred. They spent much of the evening listening to country music and watching muted television screens broadcasting election returns, most of which were tuned to Fox News.