Boehner Offers Response To Obama's Jobs Speech

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House Speaker John Boehner ruled out tax increases and hammered at government regulations in his first lengthy response to President Obama's jobs speech last week.

MELISSA BLOCK, host: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, host: And I'm Michele Norris. House Speaker John Boehner outlined a plan today to, quote, "liberate the economy." His speech came as President Obama continues campaigning for his jobs plan in swing states around the country. Not surprisingly, Boehner's proposal takes a different tack, emphasizing tax cuts and deregulation over infrastructure projects and other economic stimulus. NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports on the speaker's speech and his ideas to cure the ailing economy.

ANDREA SEABROOK: Speaker Boehner got right to the point. Yes, Republicans might find some common ground with President Obama on his jobs plan.

Representative JOHN BOEHNER: Now, let's be honest with ourselves. The president's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America.

SEABROOK: That's what this speech was about, the most powerful Republican in elective office putting forth a rival jobs plan to the president's. Boehner spoke to the Economic Club of Washington D.C. in a downtown building named for President Ronald Reagan. Boehner was obviously emotional, talking about the Republican idol.

BOEHNER: Who recognized that private sector job creators are at the heart of our economy and they always have been. That's the America that I was raised in.

SEABROOK: The House Speaker said job creation in America is facing a triple threat. One, excessive regulation; two, a tax code that discourages investment; and three, a spending binge in Washington that has created a debt crisis. Now, to be sure, Republicans have always been against over-regulation, spending and taxing in bad times and in good. The difference today is that Boehner is directly blaming them for the economic problems working Americans face today.

BOEHNER: Job creators in America basically are on strike and the problem is not confusion about the policies. It's the policies themselves.

SEABROOK: His answer, reform the tax code, making it fairer and to lower rates, cancel or change all government regulation of business that could cost money to the economy, and make deep cuts in federal spending, including reforms to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Not everyone believes in Boehner's view of the problem. Independent economists blame the banking meltdown, the European debt crisis and other factors for the current slump. Boehner did say he and his Republican colleagues in the House will consider the president's jobs plan.

And at times, during his speech, Boehner even seemed to strike a conciliatory tone.

BOEHNER: The responsibility for fixing this toxic environment for job creation is a bipartisan one.

SEABROOK: But listen closer and the speech starts to sound more partisan. Its decidedly Republican view of the problem leads Boehner to a decidedly Republican solution.

BOEHNER: The situation was created by Washington's inability to let our economy work. It was created by government intrusion and micromanagement. And I think we've got a responsibility to work together in the coming months to remove these barriers and to liberate our economy.

SEABROOK: Liberate the economy, said Boehner, from the shackles of government. It's a slogan that delivers on two fronts. It lays out the work Speaker Boehner believes the Congress must do in the coming months and it lays out the groundwork for a bid by Republicans to gain more control of the government come November 2012. Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.

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