Boehner: Problem in Washington Is ‘Too Much Spending’—But Since March, There’s No Spending Without GOP Approval

By Susan Jones | January 23, 2012 | 6:16 AM EST

House Speaker John Boehner meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Jan. 23, 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

( - House Speaker John Boehner says no one in Washington has tried harder than he has to reach an agreement with Obama on solving the nation's long-term deficit problems.

In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Boehner said President Obama is the stumbling block:

"The president would never say yes to fundamental reform for our tax code. He asked for more revenue. I told the president, I'll put revenues on table, but only if we're going to have fundamental reform of our entitlement programs. The president never said yes, and then he wanted $1 trillion worth of new taxes.

"The problem in Washington is there's too much spending,” Boehner continued. And we've got to get our arms around it. Republicans in the House and Senate are committed to real reforms of our entitlement programs and real control on spending here in Washington."

But as previously reported, federal spending bills approved by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have increased the national debt by more than $1 trillion dollars in just 10 months.

As of March 4, 2011, in fact, all federal spending legislation has required the approval of the Republican-controlled House.  March 4 was the expiration date of the continuing resolution (CR) that the lame-duck Democrat-controlled Congress approved in December 2010.

On Sunday, Boehner said the Republican-led House will "do everything we can" to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved, and he hinted that Republicans may demand Obama's approval of the pipeline as the price for extending the payroll tax cut.

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"All options are on the table," Boehner said.

In the months leading up the election, Boehner said Republicans will help the American people understand how Obama's policies "have in fact made our economy worse."

"That's our job, and we're going to do our job, but in addition to that, we do believe that fundamental reform of the tax code is important," Boehner said.

He said Republicans plan to introduce a bill that will "open up American energy production" and "use those new royalties to fund our aging roads and bridges. So there's a lot of work that is going to be done. And if the president will listen to his own jobs council, there will be an awful lot of unanimity between the bills that we're passing and what his own jobs council is calling for."

Obama said the hurdle for Republicans "is getting the president to say yes. If the president and I can come to an agreement on something, I don't think I'd have any problem selling it in the Congress."

State of the Union Address May Be 'Pathetic'

In response to a question, Boehner said "no," he won't fall asleep at President Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday night, although he does think the speech may be "pathetic."

Boehner was asked for his reaction to Obama’s anticipated call for higher taxes on the wealthy, more support for the middle class, and a deal to reduce the deficit, thus avoiding $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts.

"Do you see a compromise on any of those issues?" Fox News Sunday host Mike Wallace asked Boehner.

"You know, I read a lot about what the president is going to talk about Tuesday night," Boehner responded. "And it sounds to me like the same old policies that we've seen. More spending, higher taxes, more regulations -- the same policies that haven't helped our economy, they made it worse.

"And if that's what the president is going to talk about Tuesday night, I think it's pathetic. I think it's time for the president to listen to his own jobs council. It's time to go in a new direction.

"We need to end the regulatory nightmare that's coming out of Washington serving as a wet blanket over our economy. We need to work to fundamentally change our tax code," Boehner said.

At the end of the interview, Wallace asked Boehner whether he might fall asleep at Obama's State of the Union speech.

"No," Obama said.

Asked if he needs to "pinch" himself or bite the inside of his cheek to stay awake, Boehner again said no.

"I just do not want to be the issue, and so I can tell you all about the back of the president's head."

Wallace persisted: "You just sit there and --"

"Look right at him," Boehner smiled.

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