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Boehner on Obama deficit plans: Tells Fox Business, "I don't think I would describe class warfare as leadership"

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In an exclusive interview to appear on tonight FOX Business Network's The Willis Report (5PM/ET) House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) speaks with host Gerri Willis live from a manufacturing plant in Boehner's home district of Cincinnati, OH, about the United States economy and jobs picture. House Speaker Boehner said that "there are elements of the president's plan where we can find some common ground" including "free trade agreements" which Boehner said "if the White House will send them to the hill, congress will be ready to pass them." He went on to say that there is also common ground in the desire to "rebuild America's infrastructure" but said that the creation of an infrastructure bank would be "asking for trouble" and "giving the administration walking around cash in terms of building projects is not my idea of what congress's responsibility is."

Excerpts from the interview are below.


On whether President Obama's deficit reduction plan can earn bipartisan support:

"I don't think I would describe class warfare as leadership. The government has a spending problem and I don't believe it makes any sense to tax the people we expect to invest in our economy. If I were giving the president advice, my advice would be let's tackle the spending problem, and then if we need more revenue we will take a look at where we can get it then. I think there are elements of the president's plan where we can find some common ground. You will see us move the free trade agreements, if the White House will send them to the hill, congress will be ready to pass them. When it comes to infrastructure there may be some common ground in helping to rebuild America's infrastructure."

On whether an infrastructure bank is the right way to allocate money for building projects:

"That's asking for trouble and giving the administration walking around cash in terms of building projects is not my idea of what congress's responsibility is. I believe we have got to find a revenue source, get the money out to the states, and let them make good decisions about the needs in their specific states."

On how the tax laws should be changed and what loopholes should be closed:

"We don't want to pick winners and losers, except that we do believe that the target for a flatter, fairer tax ought to be about 25 percent on the corporate side and the top rate on the personal side to 25 percent as well. Regardless of what kind of business entity you're running, all business income taxes ought to be the same, regardless if you're a C corporation, S corporation or a partnership. Bringing those rates down, the only way you're going to do that is to eliminate a lot of the special provisions in the tax code, some of the deductions in order to bring the rate down so that it's fair for all companies in America."

On President Obama telling congress he is meeting them halfway making $3 trillion in cuts:

"Do you think it's fair to take a trillion dollars of less spending on wars and claim it as your own? We all knew that we were going to spend less in the wars in Iraq and the wars in Afghanistan but nobody really felt like we ought to be taking credit for what was already going to happen. I think what you're going to see today is a pretty vivid example of why the president and I were unable to come to an agreement on the big deal, because the president would never say yes to real cuts."

On whether Congress has been "cornered" into making cuts to Medicare and Medicaid:

"I don't believe so. The president has made a lot of ideas and put a lot of ideas out there over the last couple weeks. Some of them have merit. But when you begin to look at some of these tax increases the president has talked about, members from both political parties have rejected them. And I think the Congress will do our work in terms of reducing the debt and reducing the deficit. It's our job to do, and I believe on a bipartisan basis we'll do it."

On whether high unemployment in America is "the new normal":

"I don't know what the new normal is, but America's job creators are essentially on strike. They look at all of these regulations coming out of Washington to job creators, causing them to be scared to death. Secondly, they have no idea what the tax code's going to be a year from now, because we've only extended the current tax rates through the end of next year. We need to get government out of the way because today government is the biggest problem they're facing."

On why American companies can create jobs in China but not in the U.S.:

"We can, but we've got this administration trying to tell companies where they can and cannot locate a plant. This is one of the more bizarre things I've seen this administration do. If we're going to create more jobs in America, we've got to let American companies be more competitive. They're not going to be more competitive when we keep putting more rules, more regulations and more taxes upon them. And I believe that besides getting rid of a lot of these regulations and having a moratorium on new regulations, we ought to look at overhauling our tax code. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, therefore causing a lot of companies to locate plants overseas instead of locating them here. American entrepreneurs will innovate; they'll create jobs, they'll come up with new ideas. The problem is that the government tends to stifle this type of innovation in the United States. And it's pretty clear what needs to happen. We need to get the government out of the way.

On whether the home mortgage deduction be taken away or reduced for people earning $250,000 or more:

"The home mortgage interest deduction is kind of the mainstay of the American dream. But why should the federal government subsidize someone's second home, third home, or fourth home, for that matter? I think there's a way to do this that's fair for all Americans."

On Solyndra and whether taxpayer money should be used to support green energy companies:

"The federal government should not do is be in the business of picking winners and losers. There's a lot of new ideas about the energy of the future. And there are provisions in the tax code that allow for extra credits for research and development. But for the federal government to be out there picking one company over another, one type of energy source over another, I think, is wrong. And I think you're going to see the extra credits for ethanol, as an example, are going to expire at the end of this year, because a lot of people in other industries, other forms of energy, think that this is an unfair advantage. New energy sources are going to have to stand on their own. I'm all for green energy. I think it is the wave of the future. But I think what's happened here is this federal government's gone beyond the traditional role of fostering more research and development. And they've actually picked companies in which to invest major sums of money. And it looks like we're about to lose major sums of money."

On whether Solyndra should be shut down:

"I think we need to take a look at it. I don't have all of the answers at my fingertips. But I'm confident that Fred Upton and his committee will do a good job in overseeing it. There's a lot of innuendo out there, a lot of rumor. I believe that the investigation by the Congress and the administration will get to the bottom of it, and the sooner we get to the bottom of it, the better off we'll all be."

On whether he is concerned about a double-dip recession:

"I am. I've been worried about our economy. It's been limping along, getting a little better. But when you look at the debt problems in Europe, it does pose a direct threat to us as well. The United States has a lot of exposure to European debt. And when you look at what's been happening in Greece, their inability to solve their spending problem, it ought to send a real signal to the American people that the best thing we can do to help our economy right now is to get our debt under control. You know, this super committee that's charged with coming up with $1-1/2 trillion worth of deficit reduction is, in fact, a jobs committee, because employers and investors around the country look at this gigantic debt that we have, and it's like a wet blanket being thrown over our economy. And if we were serious about dealing with our debt problem, I believe investors and employers in the United States would feel much more comfortable about reinvesting in their business. And, frankly, we could lead the rest of the world in showing them that you can, in fact, deal with this in an open, honest way."

On whether the U.S. has lost its economic standing in the global economy:

"I don't think that. We're still the safest bet in the world. We're still the safest place to invest in the world. But we won't be if we're not willing to tackle our spending problem. We've made promises to ourselves that our kids and grandkids can't afford. It's time for us to do what we know we have to do. We know the issues that we've got to deal with. Let's go do it."

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 19, 2011 1:45 PM.

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