Election 2012

Boehner: Would Like to See Top Tax Rate of 25%


House Speaker John Boehner told CNBC on Tuesday he would like to see a top tax rate of 25 percent, and he warned that the United States had no alternative but to reduce its $16 trillion debt.

U.S. Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner
Getty Images

"I think our tax code gets in the way of our ability to grow," the Ohio Republican told CNBC's "Closing Bell"in calling for a top income tax rate of 25 percent instead of the current 35 percent. "I think that we need to overhaul both the corporate tax code and the personal tax code."

In the interview, Boehner also warned that if the Democratic-controlled Senate didn't act, the dividend tax would rise from the current 15 percent range to 43 percent in January.

"The House is going to act to extend the current tax rates. Whether we make them permanent or we extend them for a year, that debate's still up in the air. But we're going to do our work. It's time for the United States Senate to do their work," Boehner said.

Boehner accused President Barack Obama of spending too much time running for re-election rather than pressing the Senate for a budget.

"While the president is out campaigning, Rome is burning to the ground," Boehner said. "The president needs to get engaged in this process, also. Because if the president were involved in leading, we might actually have a budget out of the Senate, we might be able to come to an agreement on how to begin to address these big problems."

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He said the country is being twisted up in regulations, whether it's from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Dodd-Frank financial rules or Obama's health care reform.

"These regulations are strangling our ability to grow our economy and strangling the ability of employers to hire more people," he asserted.

The economy is slowing, he continued.

"We've got record low interest rates, yet employers are scared, they're afraid to move forward," he said. "I used to be a small employer. If I saw conditions like this, I'd be [a]hoarding case and sitting on my hands. And that's exactly what business people here in the United States are doing. We need to reduce the uncertainty."

"How do you do that?" he asked. "Deal with the tax code, deal with the debt, and stop the regulatory onslaught coming out of the administration.

If the country doesn't get its financial bottom line in order, he said, "the financial markets will do it for us in terms of downgrading our debt."

"And I actually think, regardless of what happens in the election, the next couple of years are going to be the most consequential couple of years that we've seen in Washington in the last 50 because we've got this debt issue that we're dealing with really acting like a wet blanket over our entire economy," he said.

Despite all the economic bad news, Boehner hadn't shed any tears publicly, as he is known to do. Was he changing his image?

"Oh, no, no," Boehner said. "Listen, I've met every crier in America because they come over to me, and they put their arm around me and say, `Hey, I like you. I cry, too.' "