1:07 p.m. | Updated Speaker John A. Boehner on Thursday called President Obama’s jobs plan a “poor substitute” for pro-growth policies and accused him of offering “initiatives that seem to have more to do with the next election than the next generation.”
Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
In a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, Mr. Boehner promised that House Republicans would consider the president’s proposals. But he said that the government had gotten in the way of private business and that Mr. Obama’s proposals were “more of the same.”
“Job creators in America are essentially on strike,” Mr. Boehner said, according to excerpts released by the speaker’s office. “The problem is not confusion about the policies. The problem is the policies.”
Mr. Boehner’s tough rhetoric sets the stage for a contentious legislative battle as Mr. Obama continues to press his case for his jobs plan in the face of Republican resistance and some growing skepticism among Congressional Democrats.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, joined that argument in a tough speech on the Senate floor Thursday.
“The truth is, the president has a problem that no amount of political strategizing can solve: his economic policies simply haven’t worked,” Mr. McConnell said. “Yet he and his advisers seem to be the only folks in Washington who aren’t ready to admit it.”
The fight over the jobs plan is likely to be tied closely to the effort by a special Congressional panel to reduce the nation’s debt over the long-term. In his speech Thursday, Mr. Boehner reiterated his demand that tax increases be kept off the table during those discussions.
“It’s a very simple equation,” Mr. Boehner said. “Tax increases destroy jobs. And the joint committee is a jobs committee. Its mission is to reduce the deficit that is threatening job creation in our country.”
The comments by Mr. Boehner come as Mr. Obama is preparing to submit his own plan for the deficit reduction committee to Congress next week. In the speech, Mr. Boehner said he had warned the president against the use of what he called “gimmicks” to lower the debt.
“As I told the president’s economic team during the debt limit negotiations: we’re just not doing that anymore,” Mr. Boehner said.
But the speaker hinted in his speech that there may be areas for compromise that could be acceptable to his members.
Mr. Boehner said that the committee’s efforts should include proposals to close tax loopholes as part of a broader reform that lowers personal and business tax rates. Some Republicans have balked at Democratic proposals to close tax loopholes, calling them tax increases. But Mr. Boehner said he was open to the idea.
“Yes, tax reform should include closing loopholes,” he said. “Not for purposes of bringing more money to the government. But because it’s the right thing to do.”
Mr. Boehner also criticized a common talking point of some of his Tea Party members — that cuts in spending designed to take place in later years are not real, meaningful cuts.
Mr. Boehner called that idea a “myth” that needed to be busted for the committee to be free to do its work effectively. That is a signal to his members that they should focus on the committee’s long-term goals.
“That myth is built on a healthy skepticism that spending cuts made today are going to be implemented tomorrow.,” Mr. Boehner said. “But it is a myth nonetheless, and we need to make sure it doesn’t stop us from doing what needs to be done.”
In his speech, Mr. Boehner called on members in both parties to end the “name-calling, the yelling and the questioning of others’ motives.”
But he repeated his belief that the government is overregulating, overtaxing and overspending. He said private businesses that would like to create jobs had been hampered by Mr. Obama’s administration.
“They’ve been antagonized by a government that favors bureaucrats over market-based solutions,” he said. “They’ve been demoralized by a government that causes despair when we need it to provide reassurance and inspire confidence.”