(WASHINGTON) — House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz during an exclusive interview for This Week that talk of including revenue as part of an effort to strike a so-called “grand bargain” to address the $16 trillion debt of the United States was “over,” leaving Democrats and Republicans where they have been for months – at loggerheads.
“The president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people. We’re not going to get very far,” Boehner said. “The president got his tax hikes on January 1. The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”
Boehner said the United States does not face an immediate debt problem, agreeing with recent comments by President Obama – but he added debt is an issue that will have to be addressed.
“We do not have an immediate debt crisis – but we all know that we have one looming,” he said. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”
Boehner said “hope springs eternal” in regards to the possibility of a budget deal, and told Raddatz that he has a “very good relationship” with President Obama and that he “absolutely” trusts him. He added that the president’s recent outreach — or so called “charm offensive” –intended to woo Republicans, is a “good thing.”
“It’s always a good thing to engage in more conversation, engage more members in the conversation that have not been involved up to this point,” he said.
Raddatz asked Boehner about the divergent messages seeming to emerge from CPAC, this weekend’s conservative political conference, citing speeches by Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Marco Rubio.
“There’s nothin’ wrong with the principles of our party,” he said. “But Republicans have not done as an effective job as we should in terms of talking about our principles in terms that average people can appreciate — why balancing the budget, as an example, would be good for American families. We’ve got to do a better job of helping people understand what our principles are in terms that they deal with every day.”
On gun control, when asked if he would commit to a vote on the House floor Boehner told Raddatz ” we’ll see what the Senate does, we’ll review it, and we’re going to continue to have our hearings and review this issue.”
Lastly, Boehner, who is Catholic, addressed the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new pope, Pope Francis.
“Well, this is the first time that we’ve had a pope from the Americas,” Boehner said. “So, I think it’s a giant step forward for the church. Latin America is a very, very Catholic continent. And I do believe that Pope Francis is the right person to really bring reform to the church.
“They’ve got a number of issues at the Vatican that I think need fresh eyes,” Boehner added. “And he’s clearly made a commitment to clean up some of the problems that the church has had. And it’s pretty clear from his humble nature that his papacy will be one that I think a lot of people will appreciate.”
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