Now-former House Speaker John Boehner says that he came to Washington to fight for a smaller, less costly and more accountable government, and now that he's leaving the House, that still hasn't happened.
"I began to realize over the years there is no winning this fight," Boehner said in an interview with Fox News' Bill Hemmer on Thursday, just after his replacement, Paul Ryan, took the gavel.
The fight has been going on for over 200 years in Washington, he told Hemmer in the interview, which aired on Friday on the network's "America's Newsroom"
program, and "it will be a constant struggle over how big should Washington be, how much should it take?"
Boehner said his biggest regret for the time he was speaker was the failure to reach the so-called "Grand Bargain," in 2012, which would have been an agreement with President Barack Obama and congressional leaders to curb spending while reducing the national debt and avoiding sequestration.
"I sat in the Oval Office with the president of the United States and [then-House Majority Leader] Eric Cantor, shook hands with the president and the deal was done," Boehner told Hemmer.
"$5 trillion in deficit reductions would have meant tens of trillions of dollars over the next 20 years in terms of really fixing our entitlement programs and getting us on to a much more solid foundation."
But instead, he said, Obama "walked away from the agreement and caused, really, the country to have a real struggle, because how are we going to raise the debt limit? How will we offset spending? The country went through a lot more than it needed to."
Still, Boehner said that he and Obama have had a good relationship, despite their disagreements about many issues.
"I think it's essential the leaders be able to work with each other, have a relationship, build some trust so we do the nation's business," said Boehner. "The president called me the day I announced my retirement and we had a nice conversation. At one point he said, 'Man, I'm going to miss you.' I said, 'Yes, you are, Mr. President, yes, you are.'"
And Boehner did leave office on a high point: Getting a pope to address a joint session of Congress. The speaker, a devout Catholic who was moved to tears while Pope Francis spoke, resigned his office the very next day.
But he said he does not have any regrets about quitting, as "it was the right decision, the right time. And you are right, I'm ready to go."
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