Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday shot down a proposal by a senior GOP lawmaker that the House agree to President Obama’s demand to extend middle-class tax rates as Republicans sought to put the focus of negotiations on spending.

The Speaker’s swift rejection of an idea floated by Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a respected party strategist and former chairman of the House GOP campaign committee, came as Republicans voiced increasing concerns that the debate over the so-called “fiscal cliff” had become dominated by talk of taxes rather than spending.