Boehner: U.S. debt crisis not immediate

March 18, 2013 at 3:30 AM
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WASHINGTON, March 18 (UPI) -- The United States doesn't face an immediate debt crisis, but entitlements must still be reformed to avoid one that lies ahead, House Speaker John Boehner says.

And any talk about including revenue to address the government's $16 trillion debt "is over," the Ohio Republican says.

"We do not have an immediate debt crisis," Boehner said on ABC's "This Week."

"But we all know that we have one looming. And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They're gonna go bankrupt.

"Washington has [a] responsibility to our seniors and our near-seniors that we firm up these programs so that they're there for the long term," Boehner said. "Because if we don't do it, not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now."

When asked how long Congress and the White House has before the crisis hits, Boehner said: "Nobody knows where this is. It could be a year or two years, three years, four years."

He said he agreed with President Barack Obama, who told ABC's "Good Morning America" last week, "We don't have an immediate crisis in terms of debt."

But Boehner took issue with Obama's assertion it doesn't make sense to "chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance."

Cutting spending to help balance the budget will "help our economy," Boehner said.

"It'll help create jobs in our country, get our economy going again and put more people back to work.

"The fact the government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year that it doesn't have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes them less willing to hire people."

House Republicans proposed a spending plan last week that promises to balance the budget in 10 years, in part by transforming Medicare and Medicaid, overhauling the tax code to lower rates and ensuring no Pentagon cuts.

As for any chance of working out a deal with the White House to help balance the budget and reduce the debt by increasing revenue, Boehner said that discussion has timed out.

"The president got his tax hikes on January the 1st," Boehner said. "The talk about raising revenue is over. It's time to deal with the spending problem."

When asked if he saw a way of including both entitlement cuts and new revenues in any proportion, Boehner repeated, "The president got his tax hikes on January the 1st," but didn't answer the question.

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