Boehner calls anti-tax activist 'random person'

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Speaker John Boehner (BAY'-nuhr) has sidestepped a question about whether anti-tax activist Grover Norquist is a positive influence on Republican lawmakers.

The Ohio Republican responded to the query by saying he's not often asked about "some random person in America."

The conservative Norquist has become a major factor in Washington by getting many members of Congress -- including nearly all Republicans -- to sign a pledge promising to oppose and vote against tax increases.

The adamant opposition to higher taxes among many Republicans is one reason why Congress' special debt-cutting "supercommittee" has been unable so far to reach a compromise on mopping up red ink.

Boehner said that Republicans oppose tax increases because they weaken the economy and throw Americans out of work.