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Election Day bears fruit? Boehner, Reid talk of compromise on 'fiscal cliff.' (+video)

Senate majority leader Harry Reid claims a mandate from Election 2012 to let tax cuts expire for the 'richest of the rich.' House Speaker John Boehner says the mandate is for members of Congress to work together.

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Boehner’s statement was a bit murkier. At times, he seemed to flatly reject Reid’s premise that the election gave Obama a mandate to raise taxes. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire kills job creation by raising taxes on small businesses, he said.

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At other moments, however, he seemed open to compromise on the subject.

“In order to garner Republican support for new revenues, the president must be willing to reduce spending and shore up the entitlement programs that are the primary drivers of our debt,” Boehner said. “We aren’t seeking to impose our will on the president; we’re asking him to make good on his ‘balanced’ approach.”

"This was a clever, preemptive move by Mr. Boehner to take the high road in fiscal cliff negotiations," wrote Pete Davis, head of Capital Investment Ideas, in an analysis. "He offered to work with the president, but he emphasized core Republican principles over and over again, without the slightest hint of compromise."

Obama and congressional Democrats frequently called their approach of $3 in spending cuts and lower entitlement spending to $1 in new tax revenue as a “balanced” approach to deficit reduction, especially when compared with the GOP position of no new taxes. 

Away from Capitol Hill, there was little indication that members had a change of heart on Election Day. To get a deal, Boehner, Reid, and Obama will have to convince members in both the Democratic and Republican caucuses to get on board with policy changes – higher taxes on the right, entitlement curbs on the left – that are bitter points of contention.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R) of Ohio, who chairs the Republican Study Committee – the largest and most conservative GOP caucus – said he didn’t see any glint of tax hikes in Boehner’s statement.

“He said, ‘We’re not going to raise taxes,’ ” Representative Jordan said in a phone interview. “The speaker hit the right tone. Someone’s going to have to convince me how raising taxes on job creators is going to create more jobs. It’s just the wrong thing to do.”

Jordan went on to say that House Republicans “have just as strong a mandate from the last election,” when the GOP scored a massive wave of seats, to defeat the president’s agenda as the president had from his 2012 victory.

Across the state, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) of Ohio, fresh off his own electoral victory, had the exact opposite read on Tuesday’s events.

“The tax cuts for the wealthy should expire, period,” Senator Brown told reporters. “I will never go along with raising the retirement age on Social Security or [the eligibility age for] Medicare.”

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