A mere two minutes after President Barack Obama addressed the American people on the debt limit stalemate, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner made his case to the public that what the president really wants is a blank check to continue the Washington spending binge.
“Here’s what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for,” said Boehner. “A ‘stimulus’ bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs. And a national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours.”
“I’ve got news for Washington: Those days are over,” he added, referring to recent years of the federal government spending more money than it took in. But unfortunately, said Boehner, when Obama requested a clean debt increase in January, what he really requested was “business as usual.”
The crux of the Ohioan’s argument was that the current climate in Washington, D.C. presents the perfect opportunity to fundamentally reform the tax code and federal spending, and to seriously consider a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The president, Boehner argued, has failed to embrace that challenge.
Boehner acknowledged that he did try, in good faith, to negotiate.
“I made a sincere effort to work with the president,” he said. “I gave it my all. Unfortunately, the president could not take ‘yes’ for an answer. Even when we thought we might be close on an agreement, the president’s demands changed.”
“The solution to this crisis is not complicated,” the Speaker added. “If you’re spending more money than you’re taking in, you need to spend less of it.” (Obama, Boehner present conflicting debt crisis solutions to America)
Earlier Monday, Boehner introduced his proposal to raise the debt limit while reducing the annual budget deficit. In meetings with his own caucus, Boehner sought to convince GOP lawmakers that his plan was modeled after the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act (CCB) that the Senate killed last week.
Boehner’s plan would cut $1.2 trillion from discretionary spending over ten years and raise the debt limit by $1 trillion. It would also require Congress to vote on a balanced budget amendment between October 1, 2011, and the end of the year.
The proposal would also create a joint committee of Congress tasked with finding $1.8 trillion in cuts, in turn giving the president the authority to raise the debt limit by $1.6 trillion.
By Monday evening, not all CCB supporters in Congress were convinced. Some released a statement saying that their principles are non-negotiable.
Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina opposed the plan, saying in a statement not only that it amounts to punting on tough decisions, but also that Republicans were “playing a lose-lose game.”
GOP leaders, said DeMint, were now guilty of trying to “create a better political debt deal instead of a debt solution … This is bad policy and bad politics.” (Reid, Boehner promote dueling plans)
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, freshman Republican Congressman from Kansas, responded by saying “America does not need Deficit Commission Version 18.0 … America needs the 435 Members of the House and 100 Senators to do their jobs.”
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, lead sponsor of the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, also denounced Boehner’s plan, criticizing it for “represent[ing] typical Washington answers to the federal government’s out of control spending problem.”
If all goes according to plan, the House could vote on Boehner’s proposal as early as Wednesday.