Boehner’s Economic Speech

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House Minority Leader John Boehner today laid out five prescriptions for the Obama Administration on the economy and gave a flavor of what he might do if he becomes Speaker after the midterms. In a speech at Cleveland’s historic City Club, where every virtually president has spoken since Teddy Roosevelt, Boehner slammed the President for mismanagement of the economy, called on him to fire his economic team and said “it’s time to put grown-ups in charge.”

Boehner’s five-point plan:

1. Heading off an anticipated September debate on whether to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts, Boehner made an emphatic case for extending all of the tax cuts. Democrats are proposing only extending those for the middle class – for those who make less than $200,000 a year. “Let me be clear,” Boehner said, borrowing a favorite phrase of President Obama’s, “raising taxes on families and small businesses during a recession is a recipe for disaster – both for our economy and for the deficit. Period. End of story.” Republicans argue that the Democratic plan would raise taxes on half of America’s small businesses. The tax hike would effect roughly half the revenue small businesses take in but much of that revenue is concentrated in a small number of high end companies such as hedge funds and law firms, which are taxed as small businesses.

2. Boehner asked that Obama veto any “job killing legislation” that Dems might pass during the lame duck session such as the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act or climate change. This point is a bit of a red herring, as I’ve written before, as Dems won’t have any more votes during the lame duck that they do now and they can’t get either of those bills through the Senate now.

3. Boehner did show some leg on policy, pushing back on the claim that the GOP is just the Party of No. He called on Obama to allow the repeal of the “the new health care law’s job-killing ‘1099 mandate,’” which requires some businesses to report any expenditure over $600 to the government. Boehner said this one provision alone costs small businesses $17 billion in the time to track and file such expenditures and the government another $10 billion to keep track of the filings.

Later in the speech Boehner also called on Congress to ratify Rep. Eric Cantor’s free trade proposal; endorsed legislation authored by Rep. Geoff Davis, a Kentucky Republican, that would require congressional approval of any White House expenditure of more than $100 million; and called on Dems to pass a plan by Rep. Dave Camp, the ranking Republican on the Ways & Means Committee, to give small businesses with less than 500 employees a 20% tax cut.

4. Though he praised Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s $1.3 trillion in spending cuts and called on the government to return non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels – a move Boehner says would save $340 billion – Boehner did not outline any specific spending cuts. Instead, he called on the Obama Administration to send Congress an aggressive spending reduction package. “I’m not afraid to tell you there’s no money left,” Boehner said. “In fact, we’re broke.”

5. Finally, Boehner called on Obama to fire the rest of his economic team, though he provided no recommendations with whom the President might replace them (supply siders, one presumes?) or why they should be fired now versus any other time in the last 19 months.

“President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council. Now, this is no substitute for a referendum on the president’s job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies. We’ve tried 19 months of government-as-community organizer. It hasn’t worked. Our fresh start needs to begin now.”

Dems were more than prepared for Boehner’s speech. The White House posted a prebuttal on its blog. And when asked if Boehner is, perhaps, measuring the drapes, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz yesterday on a DNC conference call with reporters, responded: “I look at this as a smoking-the-drapes moment for John Boehner, not a measuring-them. I mean, he really is smoking the drapes if he thinks the policies that they adopted – that they championed, that drove us into the ditch — are the ones that we should return to, and that Americans, when given a choice, are going to say, ‘Yeah, that’s exactly where I want to back to! Let’s backslide toward the Bush era.”

Immediately following the speech, Dems unveiled a new web video mocking Boehner as the ultimate Washington insider: