John Boehner, who as House Republican leader is in line to take over as speaker next year, told Fox News on Thursday he expects a "whale of a fight" with President Obama and his Democratic allies over taxes and spending during the lame duck session that convenes later this month.
The White House said Thursday it is open to temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts to all Americans, including the wealthy, a compromise with Republicans who want a permanent extension for all tax brackets.
But in an exclusive interview with Fox News' Bret Baier, Boehner said he's not sure a deal will be worked out in the next two months, before Democrats relinquish their House majority to Republicans after Tuesday's midterm elections.
"We're not in control," Boehner said. "And I've not been party to any of these conversations. I'm for extending all of the current tax rates for all Americans."
But as Obama and Republicans sought to find common ground in the face of a new political order that will divide power among the parties, Boehner rejected the notion that gridlock is good.
"The American people want us to find common ground," he said. "And I'm hoping that the president heard what the American people had to say the other night."
Republicans captured the House on Tuesday by winning more than 60 seats, the biggest party turnover in more than 70 years. Republicans also cut into the Democratic majority in the Senate.
That outcome means both parties will have to work together to get any legislation passed. Boehner said he told the president Wednesday that he's willing to work with him on free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea.
Boehner also repeated his vow to repeal the new health care law, the president's signature accomplishment.
"We are going to repeal 'Obamacare' and replace it with common sense reforms that will bring down the costs of health insurance," he said.
Asked why not seek a compromise when the White House and Senate Democrats would block any wholesale repeal, Boehner said the issue is about "the greatest health care system in the world" and about jobs.
"And if you look at all of the requirements on employers, you can understand why they're not hiring new employees, because we've raised the cost of employment," he said.
"Beyond repealing 'Obamacare,' we're going to do everything we can to stop this bill from being implemented, to make sure it never happens," he said. "And, frankly, if we're successful, this will become the No. 1 issue in the presidential election."
Boehner said Republicans have "a lot of tricks up our sleeves in terms how we can dent this, kick it, slow it down to make sure it never happens."