House Speaker John Boehner says President Barack Obama is spending far too much time worrying about the 2012 election at the expense of what Americans really want — a leader who is willing to take decisive action on the moribund economy. Boehner also said Tuesday on Fox News that despite dire warnings, nobody truly believes a loan default is in the U.S. future.
“The president is, I think, spending too much time thinking about the next election, as opposed to doing what the country wants him to do right now, and that’s to focus on the economy and jobs,” Boehner told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. “And that’s why dealing with this debt ceiling increase in a responsible way is critically important — because it will bring confidence to business people in the United States — it will help create jobs, if we are willing to take on the big challenges that face us.”
Hannity asked Boehner the status of debt-ceiling negotiations, stalled last week when the two GOP participants walked out over Democratic reluctance to abandon tax-increase rhetoric. The Fox host also wanted to know why Democrats continue to push for tax hikes when Republican leaders have made it clear there was no chance — or has the GOP stepped back from the demand.
“I’ve made it clear to the president, we are not going to raise taxes — you can’t raise taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and to create jobs,” Boehner said. “Secondly, there are no votes in the Congress in the House or in the Senate — there’s not a majority to raise taxes on anyone. So, tax increases are off the table. And I’m not sure they’ve gotten the message yet — I’m just not sure that they’ve been dealing with reality.”
Hannity noted there is fear that the nation will go into default unless an agreement is reached on raising the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has suggested that basic benefits to seniors and military families would be cut off if there is no deal before August 2, when the debt ceiling is reached.
“Nobody believes that United States is going to walk away from its obligations. But I’m going to tell you, Sean, when I said this is the moment and this is the opportunity, it’s exactly what I mean,” Boehner said. “Dealing with this debt problem and this deficit problem is far more important than meeting some artificial date created by the treasury secretary — we cannot miss this opportunity. If we want jobs to come to America, we’ve got to give American business people the confidence to invest in our economy. Today, they don’t have that confidence.”
Hannity asked whether Boehner backs congressional efforts to set a permanent spending cap and supports the call for a balanced budget amendment.
“I do — and I think that it is important that we get real cuts and real changes in spending now,” Boehner said. “I’ve been a big supporter of the balanced budget amendment over my career — I’ve always voted for it and I will vote for it again.”
Boehner said he doesn’t know whether President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats would go along with the call for a Constitutional amendment to balance the budget at this time, when the main focuses are on soaring unemployment and debt.
“But we’ve got a vote scheduled — I think Eric Cantor, our majority leader scheduled a debate and vote on the balanced budget amendment, [with] limitations on the ability to raise taxes and limitations on the ability to increase spending,” he said. “And I think that’s coming a week of July 25th.”
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