“We are Americans and we will figure this out.” Speaker Boehner Discusses Challenges Facing the Nation and
the Republican Party in Address to The Ripon Society
WASHINGTON, DC – Speaker of the House John Boehner (OH-8) appeared before a luncheon meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday afternoon, delivering a speech in which he not only talked about some of the key challenges facing the Nation and the Republican Party in the coming year, but discussed how House Republicans plan to meet these challenges in the coming weeks and months.
“I think a lot of you have probably heard about our retreat last week,” Boehner stated. “We had the right mix of outside speakers and motivational speakers, and ample time for Members to actually talk to each other. Out of this conversation, we developed a plan for moving forward in the short term. We’ve got the debt limit facing us and the sequester hits on March 1st. If all that isn’t enough, the government runs out of money on March 27th. No one really knows what will happen. But I’m not quite sure I want to look over the edge of the cliff when it comes to the debt limit.
“In terms of trying to hit our objective and deal with the structural deficits that our country is facing, I think moving the debt limit out of the way and dealing with the sequester and the CR at the end of March puts us in a much stronger position. But to do that, we’ve got to move the debt limit out. There’s nothing that irritates our Members more than the fact that, for nearly four years now, the Senate has not done a budget. So we came up with the idea that we’ll extend the debt limit contingent upon the Senate doing a budget and the House doing a budget. Of course we’ve done budgets every year. If the Senate doesn’t do their budget, they’re going to get their pay docked. So we’re busy trying to round up votes today to get that done.”
Making reference to recent discussions he has had with President Obama on fiscal issues, Speaker Boehner -- who was a successful small business owner in Ohio prior to his election to the House of Representatives in 1990 -- continued:
“In our meetings before Christmas, the President was so tired of me talking about when we were going to deal with an entitlement crisis that he looked at me and said: ‘Boehner, we don’t have a spending problem. We have a health care problem.’ It gives you some idea of the challenge that we’re facing. For a guy who’s run up the deficit 60 percent -- 60 percent of the deficit has occurred under his watch -- when you see this, and then you hear him say: ‘I am not going to negotiate on the debt limit. I am not going to deal with the debt limit. That’s Congress’s problem!’… Frankly, I think it’s irresponsible.
“And given what we heard yesterday about the President’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this Administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history. I’ve been in these spots before. I remember November of ’06, January of ’07 -- we’ve been through these periods before. And you know, our Members get down, our supporters get down.”
“Pat [Tiberi] got an email from a mutual friend: ‘I’m finished – done – I’m not doing this anymore. Don’t send me anymore fundraising appeals. I’ve had it!’ Last night, I got a three-page text from my good friend Lou Holtz, who must have watched the Inaugural and then all that blabber on TV…: ‘I’m done, finished, the country’s over with -- we’re not doing this again!’ Now, I had already had this conversation with Lou about nine or ten days after the election. He came in to speak to our 34 new Members. And before he went over to talk to them, he came over to my office, and he was moaning and groaning. I said, ‘Lou, would you stop it? We’re Americans, we’ll figure this out!’ And I had to spend 15 minutes giving Lou Holtz a pep talk! I had to do it again last night!”
“But listen, we are Americans and we will figure this out. These next couple of weeks, next couple of months, frankly, the next 20 months, are going to be a very difficult period for us. While we want to stand up and fight for more fiscal responsibility, want to stand up and find a way to move tax reform that will help our economy grow, to do the things we believe in, we’re going to be doing it in an environment that is going to be far more hostile than anything that I think we’ve seen for a long, long time. We’re going to have to make some big decisions about how we as a party take on this challenge. Where’s the ground that we fight on? Where’s the ground that we retreat on? Where are the smart fights? Where are the dumb fights that we have to stay away from? We’ve got a lot of big decisions to make. And while a lot of the retreat unfortunately got focused on the next 90 days, there needs to be further work to talk about how we’re going to navigate the next 20 months and what our goals are and how do we defend ourselves in what I do believe is going to be a very hostile environment. All I know is I’m up for the fight.”
Boehner was introduced at yesterday’s luncheon by two longtime allies from his home state: Congressman Pat Tiberi (OH-12), the Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures who also serves as Co-Chair of The Ripon Society’s Honorary Congressional Advisory Board; and, former Congressman Mike Oxley, who represented Ohio’s 4th Congressional District and served as Chairman of the Financial Services Committee before his retirement from the House in 2006. Also attending the Ripon Society luncheon were Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21), the Chairman of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and Congressmen Dan Benishek (MI-1), Pat Meehan (PA-7), and Jim Renacci (OH-17).
The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and
takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 –
Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the
ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s
success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and
having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the