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Obama, Boehner agree: Debt crisis not immediate

| Sunday, March 17, 2013, 7:03 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The country does not face an immediate debt crisis, House Speaker John Boehner said on Sunday, but he argued that Congress and President Obama must reform entitlements to avert one.

“We all know that we have one looming,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said on ABC's “This Week.” “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They're going to go bankrupt.” Boehner agreed with Obama's statement in an interview last week that the debt doesn't present “an immediate crisis.”

But Boehner took issue with Obama's assertion that it doesn't make sense to “chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”

A budget proposal from House Republicans would balance the budget in 10 years.

“Balancing the budget will, in fact, help our economy,” Boehner said. “It'll help create jobs in our country, get our economy going again and put more people back to work. The fact that the government continues to spend more than $1 trillion every year that it doesn't have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes them less willing to hire people,” he said.

The House would “review” any gun control measure that came out of the Senate, Boehner added. He restated his opposition to gay marriage and said that, unlike his fellow Ohio Republican, Sen. Rob Portman, he can't imagine a situation in which he would change his mind. Portman said last week that his views had changed since he found out his son is gay.

“I believe that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. It's what I grew up with. It's what I believe. It's what my church teaches me. And I can't imagine that position would ever change,” added Boehner, who is Roman Catholic.

Boehner said he has a good relationship with Obama and trusts him, and that a lack of good relations is not the problem getting in the way of a sweeping deficit-reduction plan.

Sen. Bob Corker took a more flexible position on “Fox News Sunday.”

“I think Republicans, if they saw true entitlement reform, would be glad to look at tax reform that generates additional revenue,” the Tennessee Republican said.

As the White House continues to push for a broader deal that would help economic recovery, lawmakers plan to move forward this week on competing fiscal 2014 budget blueprints.

“We've got to, of course, pass this budget resolution in the Senate,” Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the chamber's second-ranking Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.” “And then we're going to move to the next stage, and that is the grand bargain stage.”

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