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Boehner Assures Republicans He Won't Cave on Tax Hikes

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House Speaker John Boehner speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington July 12.AP

House Speaker John Boehner, countering perceptions that there is a growing rift between him and his chief deputy, Eric Cantor, on deficit reduction, told Republicans in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that he will not allow tax hikes, and blasted the White House for continuing to push them. 

"Am I angry about it? I sure as hell am," Boehner said, according to remarks obtained by Fox News. 

The testy comments come as bipartisan congressional leaders prepare to sit down Tuesday afternoon for the third day in a row to figure out a deficit-reduction deal which could clear the way for an increase in the debt ceiling. But with talks in a stalemate, Boehner put the blame squarely on the White House. He told reporters the debt-ceiling increase is "his problem" and put the onus on him to present a deficit-reduction plan that can pass Congress. 

Watch Special Report With Bret Baier at 6 p.m. ET tonight for an exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner.

The speaker went into great detail about his concerns with the president's approach in the closed-door meeting with the House Republican Conference. 

According to the remarks obtained by Fox News, Boehner said Obama initially expressed a willingness to reform all three entitlement programs in exchange for "a list of tax increases." 

Boehner said he refused, but came back with an offer to discuss corporate and personal "tax reform." Further, Boehner said he wanted "fewer tax rates and a top rate less than it is today" by early next year -- in exchange for making the bottom four Bush tax rates permanent, as Obama requested. 

"The president could not accept that because he wanted to increase the 'progressivity' of the current system," Boehner said. "This is where things began to break down." 

Boehner added: "Let me be crystal clear on this -- at no time, ever, during this discussion did I agree to let taxes go up. I haven't spent 20 years here fighting tax increases just to throw it all away in one moment. " 

Boehner's statements come as he seeks to assure his caucus he's on their side when it comes to taxes and spending cuts. Tea Party loyalists have had concerns Boehner was edging too close to the White House position on taxes, creating friction between him and Cantor, the House majority leader and favorite of Tea Party Republican freshmen. 

Boehner wasn't the only one stepping up the rhetoric ahead of Tuesday's meeting. On the Senate floor, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell accused the president and his party of "deliberate deception." 

Cantor also accused Obama of trying to impose "greater costs on the people of this country at a time they can least deal with that." 

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, asked about the GOP pushback, said "purist" positions from both sides will not pass and urged lawmakers to compromise. 

"We have to acknowledge that maximalist positions will not prevail ... logic dictates otherwise," he said. 

Carney also reminded lawmakers that time is running out to raise the debt ceiling by an Aug. 2 deadline. "We're in a matter-of-days phase of these negotiations," Carney said. 

On the Democratic side, liberal groups and lawmakers are pressuring the president not to cede ground when it comes to entitlements. The rhetoric on both sides has the potential to complicate the latest marathon push to strike a deal and raise the debt ceiling. 

After Obama privately offered to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, liberal Democrats and advocacy groups cried foul. 

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., told Fox News such cuts would be a political and fiscal "mistake."
One liberal group, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, immediately blasted out an email to supporters urging them to sign a petition to the Obama campaign threatening to withhold support in 2012 if he cuts Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. 

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated that her caucus continues to oppose cuts in Social Security and Medicare as a "piggybank to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthy." 

On Tuesday, Obama told CBS News that without a deal by the Aug. 2 deadline to avoid a potential default, he can't guarantee Social Security checks will go out in the mail past Aug. 3.

"There may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," Obama reportedly said.

Watch Special Report With Bret Baier at 6 p.m. ET tonight for an exclusive interview with House Speaker John Boehner.