Boehner Defends Budget Deal But Says 'It Has Caused Some Confusion’

By Dan Joseph | April 14, 2011 | 2:11 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

( -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the deal to cut $38.5 billion from the 2011 budget reached last week between House Republicans and Democrats was “no cause for celebration,” but he also defended the agreement from criticism by many conservatives who believe that the spending cuts are not big enough to make an impact on the nation’s burgeoning debt.

The federal deficit in fiscal year 2010 was $1.8 trillion and the national debt currently is $14.29 trillion, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

In a Capitol Hill Press conference on Thursday, the Speaker told reporters that the budget deal cuts spending that otherwise would have been added to the annual deficit.

“Certainly, it has caused some confusion,” said Boehner. “Let’s understand that we’re cutting $38-and-a-half billion in money that has already been authorized and appropriated.  And anybody who doesn’t believe that this money wouldn’t be spent if we don’t act is kidding themselves.”

Boehner also pointed to the long-term implications of the deal saying that the biggest accomplishment of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives thus far has been to change the trajectory of the national agenda.

“The biggest accomplishment of our first 100 days in the majority is this,” said Boehner. “The spending debate in Washington has turned 180 degrees.  When we started this year, the president wanted no spending cuts.  The president didn’t want to deal with a long-term fiscal crisis that’s affecting employers in America and those who would create jobs.”

President Obama pauses during his speech on America’s energy security, delivered at Georgetown University in Washington Wednesday, March 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

“And look at where the debate is today,” said Boehner.  “We’re going to take a step today to cut $78-and-a-half-billion worth of spending below what the president would have spent.  We’re going to save $315 billion over the next 10 years.”

Boehner also pointed to the GOP’s success in getting Democrats to agree to cuts as being an impressive feat.

“While we had to drag them kicking and screaming to the table, we finally secured these budget cuts from them,” he said.

When asked about President Barack Obama’s speech on Wednesday, in which he said that he would not extend the Bush tax rates for higher wage earners, Boehner seemed not to take the president’s promise seriously.

“I heard that a year ago,” said Boehner.  “But he did.”

Boehner was referring to Obama’s agreement to extend the Bush era tax rates for two years despite campaign promises that he would allow those rates to expire in 2010.