Addressing the Economic Club of Washington House Speaker John Boehner threw cold water on the prospect of passing President Obama’s jobs bill during a speech, casting doubt over the viability of longterm debt talks as well.
“Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions made in Washington. They’ve been slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating,” said Boehner.
“They’ve been hurt by a government that offers short-term gimmicks rather than fundamental reforms that will encourage long-term economic growth.”
Boehner prodded the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to set the groundwork for tax reform that would lower the corporate rate and close loopholes — the preferred GOP method for cleaning up the nation’s tax system. Tax increases, Boehner said, are not an option as they seek to close a gaping $14 trillion budget hole.
“The Joint Select Committee can tackle tax reform, and it should,” Boehner said. “It’s probably not realistic to think the Joint Committee could rewrite the tax code by Nov. 23. But it can certainly lay the groundwork by then for tax reform in the future that will enhance the environment for economic growth.”
“The committee can develop principles for broad-based tax reform that will lower rates for individuals and corporations while closing deductions, credits, and special carveouts in our tax code. And I hope it will,” he added.
Coming a week to the day after Obama unveiled the American Jobs act to a joint session of Congress, Boehner’s remarks are the most overtly critical lines of pushback yet from Republican leadership. Along with skepticism over the jobs package expressed by centrist Democrats, they raise questions about the White House’s ability to pass its legislation through Congress intact.
In a speech that marked Boehner’s first in-depth foray into the policy sphere since the debt ceiling debate, Boehner also laid down his marker on infrastructure spending, saying he’s “not opposed to responsible spending to repair and improve infrastructure.”
“But if we want to do it in a way that truly supports long-term economic growth and job creation, let’s link the next highway bill to an expansion of American-made energy production,” he said. “Removing some of the unnecessary government barriers that prevent our country from utilizing its vast energy resources could create millions of new jobs.”
Boehner also reiterated that the House would consider Obama’s jobs proposals – and could work with him on some parts of his agenda — but made clear he does not believe they should replace the GOP economic program, which he’ll continue to push in Congress. In a statement that referred to Boehner only in its headline, the White House countered Thursday by arguing that the president has a solid plan.
“Any plan to grow the economy and create jobs should be measured by whether it puts money in the pockets of middle class families, puts teachers, police officers, firefighters and construction workers back to work, and invests in our small businesses so they can grow and hire,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “The president’s plan meets that test.”
“The public overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly agrees with the president that to get our long-term fiscal house in order, we need to approach it in a balanced way,” said Carney. “If the answer is [Rep. Paul] Ryan’s budget, we know how Americans feel about that. They do not believe that we need to end Medicare as we know it to get our deficits and debt under control, because we don’t.”
“We don’t have unlimited resources,” Carney added. “And we have to make choices about, do we provide tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans … or do we make sure that responsibility for resolving this problem is shared and we have a balanced approach?
“I would simply note that the Speaker of the House made clear in the negotiations he had with the president, he put, in his words, ‘revenues on the table.’ Well, we believe revenues have to be on the table if we are going to solve our deficit and debt problems.” [via Huff Post and Politico]