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Boehner Says Debt Limit Should Be Part Of Talks

Boehner insisted that the programs need to be on the table.

"It's not like there is money in Social Security and Medicare" trust fund, Boehner said. "This has to be dealt with."

The Ohio Republican, reflecting the sentiment of his caucus, said increasing the maximum 35 percent tax rate on high-income earners cannot be part of the deal. Boehner did signal that he was open to eliminating loopholes.

"The problem with raising tax rates on wealthy Americans is that more than half of them are small business owners," Boehner said. "Raising tax rates will slow down our ability to create the jobs that everyone says they want."

The Republican leader acknowledged that his party faces several roadblocks after Obama won a second term and the GOP lost seats in both the House and the Senate.

"It's clear that as a political party we've got some work to do," he said.

Republicans fared poorly with Hispanic voters. The fastest growing minority group went heavily for Democrats, backing Obama by more than 70 percent. Boehner signaled a willingness to tackle immigration legislation next year.

"What I'm talking about is a common sense, step-by-step approach, would secure our borders, allow us to enforce the laws, and fix a broken immigration system," he said. "But again on an issue this big, the president has to lead."

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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