Boehner to Obama: ‘We’ve Spent Enough Time Playing Small Ball'

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 16, 2012 | 1:17 PM EDT

FILE: House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio takes questions during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 10, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

( – When asked what he planned to talk to President Barack Obama about at private lunch at the White House with other congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he would ask the president where is his plan to deal with the debt, impending tax increases, and cuts in the miiltary.

"We've spent enough time playing small ball," Boehner said in describing his message.

“Where’s the president’s plan to tackle our looming debt crisis, where’s the president’s plan to stop the largest tax increase in American history from occurring on January the first?” Boehner said. “Where’s the president’s plan to replace these indiscriminate cuts to our military, which will devastate their ability to keep America secure?”

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“It’s time for us to deal with the big issues that are affecting our country and our society,” Boehner said.  “We’ve spent enough time playing small ball.

Boehner directly dismissed assertions  that he is threatening a "default" by promising spending cuts for any increase in the debt ceiling.

A reporter asked Boehner, during a press conference following a Republican Conference meeting: “Why are you threatening default on the debt limit in May of 2012?”

“Whoa, I am not threatening default,” Boehner said.

“Let’s remember something, the issue here is the debt, almost $16 trillion worth of debt,  $1.3 trillion budget deficit again this year,” the Speaker said.  “One only has to read the publications that many of you write for to realize that the situation in Europe is becoming grimmer every day.”

He continued:  “We have time to deal with our problems, and what I’m trying to do was encourage people on both sides of the aisle, on both sides of the Capitol and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, to be honest with the American people and to be honest with ourselves to begin to tackle this problem in an adult-like fashion.”

On Tuesday, the speaker promised “real cuts and real reforms” in dealing with an approaching debt ceiling limit of $16.4 trillion, which is likely to be met later this year.

“We shouldn’t dread the debt limit. We should welcome it,” Boehner said.  “It’s an action-forcing event in a town that has become infamous for inaction.  When the time comes, I will again insist on my simple principle of cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase.”

Boehner also said issues like the debt limit, the impending expiration of the Bush tax cuts and automatic spending cuts to the military on January 1, 2013 should not be left to be dealt with during the lame duck session in Congress after November.

The speaker also stressed that his differences with the president are not “personal.”

“The president and I, as you well know, we get along fine,” Boehner said.  “But he has issues with what I believe in and frankly I’ve had some issues about what he believes in.”

He added: “And it’s, we have looming—big looming problems facing our country. This debt crisis is standing in the way of a lot of employers hiring new people. The fact that no one knows what the tax rates are going to be in January causes business people and investors to sit on their hands because the picture is uncertain.”

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