WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) threw cold water on the prospect of passing President Obama's jobs bill during a speech on Thursday, casting doubt over the viability of longterm debt talks as well.
Addressing the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner called Obama's plan to create jobs, which includes a mix of tax incentives and state-targeted spending, a "poor substitute" for policies he views as more effective.
“Private-sector job creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions made in Washington. They’ve been slammed by uncertainty from the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation from a government that is always micromanaging, meddling, and manipulating," said Boehner. “They’ve been hurt by a government that offers short-term gimmicks rather than fundamental reforms that will encourage long-term economic growth."
Coming a week to the day after Obama unveiled the American Jobs act to a joint session of Congress, Boehner's remarks are the most overtly critical lines of pushback yet from Republican leadership. Along with skepticism over the jobs package expressed by centrist Democrats, they raise questions about the White House's ability to pass its legislation through Congress intact.
The foreshadowing of political paralysis didn't end with Boehner's comments on the jobs plan. Elsewhere in his speech, he made clear that he wanted tax increases off the table when the congressional super committee tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction makes its recommendations.
"It's a very simple equation. 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," he declared.
That absolutism ran directly in contrast to Boehner's pitch, earlier in the speech, for "politicians of all stripes" to drop the “my way or the highway” approach. It was also a tougher line than the Speaker reportedly took when he himself was negotiating a deficit reduction deal with the president during the debt ceiling showdown.
And, indeed, when pressed about Boehner's insistence that the super committee should not consider tax increases, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney recalled those moments, not so long ago, when he was more willing to compromise.
"The public overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly agrees with the president that to get our long-term fiscal house in order, we need to approach it in a balanced way," said Carney. "If the answer is [Rep. Paul] Ryan's budget, we know how Americans feel about that. They do not believe that we need to end Medicare as we know it to get our deficits and debt under control, because we don't."
"We don't have unlimited resources," Carney added. "And we have to make choices about, do we provide tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans ... or do we make sure that responsibility for resolving this problem is shared and we have a balanced approach?
"I would simply note that the Speaker of the House made clear in the negotiations he had with the president, he put, in his words, 'revenues on the table.' Well, we believe revenues have to be on the table if we are going to solve our deficit and debt problems."
UPDATE (6:51 p.m.): The White House Press Secretary issued a statement in response to Boehner's speech:
Any plan to grow the economy and create jobs should be measured by whether it puts money in the pockets of middle class families, puts teachers, police officers, firefighters and construction workers back to work, and invests in our small businesses so they can grow and hire. The President’s plan meets that test. The American Jobs Act includes the kinds of proposals that have been supported in a bipartisan way in the past, is fully paid for, and prominent, independent economists say it could create between 1.5 and 2 million jobs. And the President’s plan rebuilds the economy the American way, based on balance, fairness and ensuring there is the same set of rules for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street. The President is committed to working with members of both parties in Congress to pass the American Jobs Act right away.