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Boehner Urges House GOP, Bogged Down In News Cycle, To Refocus On Economy And Spending

“We have the high ground in this fight, and the Democrats know it … Let’s stay on offense,” Boehner told colleagues.

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After a week in which Republicans were stuck discussing issues ranging from Mitt Romney’s tax returns to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s paranoia about the Muslim Brotherhood, Speaker John Boehner Tuesday pushed his conference to remain focused on the task at hand: hammering President Barack Obama on taxes and spending.

During their weekly closed door conference meeting, the Ohio Republican emphasized the need for Republicans to focus on the upcoming fights over extension of the Bush tax cuts and changes to the so-called spending “sequester,” which Boehner called the “two threats facing the American people right now,” according to a source in the meeting. (If Congress does not extend the tax cuts by the end of the year, taxes will increase on hundreds of thousands of Americans, while the sequester — a mechanism created by Congress during last summer’s debt ceiling fight — would impose dramatic cuts on defense and domestic spending.)

According to the GOP source, Boehner argued that “Republicans are the only ones in this town with a plan to address both the threat to our economy and the threat to our security” and that the GOP must make the case that Obama and Senate Democrats are to blame for the sequester and the potential tax increases on the middle class early next year. “We have the high ground in this fight, and the Democrats know it. … Let’s stay on offense,” Boehner told his colleagues.

Boehner’s pep talk comes as Democrats have increasingly stepped up their offensive game as well, looking to use the tax fight and broader battle over spending and revenues to paint Republicans as beholden to wealthy interests. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for instance, went on the attack in some 60 districts Monday, circulating a press release accusing GOP incumbents of “Preparing to vote for another tax break to benefit millionaires, Big Oil, and companies that ship American jobs overseas, instead of protecting … middle class and creating jobs.”

John Stanton is a senior national correspondent for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.

Contact John Stanton at

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