Boehner warns Obama headed for 'brick wall'

MGN Online
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - 2:00pm

House Speaker John Boehner warned President Barack Obama that he will "run into a brick wall" by using his executive power and bypassing Congress, as the White House has signaled the President intends to do.

"We're just not going to sit here and let the President trample all over us," said Boehner.

"This idea that he's just going to go it alone, I have to remind him we do have a constitution. And the Congress writes the laws, and the President's job is to execute the laws faithfully. And if he tries to ignore this he's going to run into a brick wall."

Boehner, speaking during an annual State of the Union day breakfast in his Capitol office with reporters, also said raising the minimum wage for new federal contractors, which the President is expected to announce tonight, won't have much real world effect.

"I suspect it affects absolutely no one," said Boehner.

His aides later clarified that he meant immediately, since the executive order will be for a minimum wage increase for new hires.

Boehner Says House Republicans Need to Get Back on Offense

The Speaker conceded that his party has spent so much time railing against the President's agenda, they have gotten off track over the last several years in putting forward their own policy prescriptions -- something he hopes to help correct this year.

"As we look at this year I think we go back to what we did in '07,'08, 09, '10 and that is to be the party of better solutions. When I took over as leader in '07 I told our members you can't go out there and criticize Democrats unless you tell them what you're for."

He said that will include a health care reform alternative to Obamacare, in addition to bread and butter issues of the economy, jobs, education, and infrastructure.

When asked if he was admitting Republicans were simply the party of "no" over the last several years, Boehner responded he "wouldn't go quite that far, but we spent an awful lot of time in opposition as opposed to spending time on offense saying what we're for."

Boehner Tries To Set Welcoming Tone

The Speaker insisted there is common ground on many issues the two parties can find over the next year.

"Listen, just because we have divided government doesn't mean that it has to be dysfunctional. As a matter of fact I would argue we've come a long way in the last few months," said Boehner, citing the budget agreement and spending bill which passed with bipartisan majorities. He also said he expects a bipartisan farm bill to pass this week.

"If the President is serious about a year of action it would be nice if he would just reach out and work with us," said Boehner, ticking off a list of issues he thinks they can find common ground, from trade promotion authority, energy, immigration reform, water infrastructure, patent reform, cyber security and more.

Boehner Relationship with President Obama

"It's perfect," is how Boehner responded to a question about the state of his relationship with Obama.

When that was met with laughter from reporters, Boehner quickly added "No, it is!"

"I know you don't believe this but he and I have a nice relationship. We talk on the phone from time to time. There's hardly a meeting at the White House where once it's over he doesn't pull me aside and we chat for another 10 minutes about whatever. We have a very nice relationship. We just don't agree on a lot of big things"

Debt Ceiling Increase

Boehner continued to make clear he has no desire to wage a fight with the President next month on raising the debt ceiling, saying "I want it dealt with sooner rather than later."

But he wouldn't say whether that could mean passing a clean debt ceiling, which would almost surely only pass with significant Democratic support.

The President has made clear he will not negotiate over paying the country's bills, but House Republicans are worried about retribution from the conservative base if they vote to increase the debt ceiling without any concessions.

Still, House Republican leaders will discuss possible options to ask the President for in return for increasing the debt ceiling at their retreat later this week.

Boehner said some of the ideas they're kicking around are changes to federal health care law that many Democrats support, like doing away with a provision that gives government aide to insurance companies, known as the "risk corridor," doing away with the medical device tax, doing away with a fee that affects unions as well as small businesses, and more.

"The President has said he's not going to negotiate. After dealing with the President for three years on our debt and deficit it's clear he won't touch our entitlement programs without an agreement to raise taxes. We're not going to raise taxes. I've also made clear through this entire three year fight that we're not going to default on our debt. We're going to have a discussion on Thursday with how to deal with it," said Boehner

Obamacare will "crash on its own"

Even so, Boehner said he does not believe the President or Senate Democrats will ever do anything to change the Affordable Health Care Act, because its "the President's pride and joy" but said he still believes it is unsustainable and will "crash on its own"

He joked about saying the blowback he got the day after election that Obamacare is the "law of the land"

"I never got slapped around more in my whole life...you'd think i had taken God's name in vein or something"

Shutdown -- Lessons Learned

Boehner said he believes his members learned a lot from last fall's federal government shutdown, which he admits was a mistake.

"I tried to tell them this wouldn't work," said Boehner, speaking of his discussions with his GOP rank and file who wanted to tie defunding Obamacare to funding the government, which led to the government shutdown.

What did House Republicans learn?

"They're the ones in charge of their voting cards, no one else," Boehner said, including conservative outside groups who "need to be put in check. 

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