Popular vote 2012: President Obama faces fiscal cliff, House Speaker John Boehner ready to talk

(CNN) -- House Speaker John Boehner, talking about the prospect of negotiating with President Barack Obama on a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff, said in an interview Thursday that he is the "most reasonable, responsible person here in Washington" and that Obama knew he was ready to hash out a plan.

"Of course we'll talk about it. We talk about all kinds of things we may disagree on," Boehner said in the interview with ABC News.

Congress faces an end-of-the-year deadline before massive spending cuts kick in and tax breaks begin to expire, including the Bush-era tax cuts at the end of December. The fiscal cliff also includes so-called sequestration -- automatic across-the-board spending cuts set to trigger at the beginning of 2013 if Capitol Hill fails to create a deficit-reduction plan.

In his interview, Boehner echoed sentiments expressed Wednesday in a speech in Washington, in which he said higher tax rates would be unacceptable to Republicans who control the House.

"I've made it clear to the president, and I think I laid out yesterday -- raising taxes on small business people is the wrong prescription, based on where the economy is," Boehner said Thursday.

"Frankly it couldn't even pass the House. I'm not sure it could pass the Senate."

The House speaker said he was glad to see Rep. Paul Ryan return to Congress, despite having lost his bid for vice president alongside Mitt Romney. But asked if Ryan was now the leader of the Republican Party, Boehner (who himself could be considered his party's leader) said the Wisconsin congressman was more focused on economic policy.

"I wouldn't think so," Boehner said. "Paul Ryan's a policy wonk. He's involved in the cause of trying to bring us pro-growth economic agendas for America and making sure that we're doing this in a fiscally responsible way."

Boehner said he had every reason to believe Ryan would return at chairman of the House Budget Committee.
 
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