John Boehner: NO on Shutdown; YES on Entitlement Reform

Feb 27, 2011 6:22am

ABC's Jonathan Karl reports: In a speech to the National Association of Religious Broadcasters Sunday night in Nashville, Speaker of the House John Boehner will address “the moral responsibility” to cut spending, reduce the deficit, avoid a government shutdown and also address spending on entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare.

The speech comes just two days after House Republicans have proposed a new spending bill that appeared more likely than the previous bill to garner support from Democrats in the Senate and avoid a government shutdown. The government is set to shut down at the end of Friday March 4 if lawmakers cannot agree on a way to extend federal funding before then.

The Speaker’s press office has released excerpts of the speech Boehner will deliver tonight. There are two notable things here:  1) Boehner promises the Republican budget for 2012 will “specifically deal with entitlement reform” (something the Republican leadership, so far, has avoided); and, 2) unlike former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is now saying the 1995/96 shutdown was a good thing, Boehner insists he wants to avoid one. 

“This is very simple:  Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money,”  Boehner will say.

His entitlement reform promise comes with a whack at the White House: “To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure,” Boehner says. “By acting now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement.  And we can keep the promises we have made to our children.”

Here are the rest of the excerpts:
 
On following the 'will of the people:'
 
“We have a moral responsibility to address the problems we face.  That means working together to cut spending and rein in government – NOT shutting it down.  The House has passed legislation – reflecting the will of the people – that would keep the government running through October while cutting spending.   The leader of the United States Senate has refused to allow a vote on this legislation, so the House will pass a shorter-term bill that will also keep the government running while including reasonable spending cuts at the same time.  This is very simple: Americans want the government to stay open, and they want it to spend less money.  We don’t need to shut down the government to accomplish that.  We just need to do what the American people are asking of us.”

On the economic and moral implications of Washington spending:

“Now surpassing $14.1 trillion, our national debt is on track to eclipse the size of our entire economy this year.  In other words, we’re broke.  Broke, going on bankrupt.  Just as a bankrupt business has trouble creating jobs, so does a bankrupt country. … Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country.  It is also a moral threat.  It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt.  It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China.  No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.”

On entitlement spending:

“Our budget, under the leadership of our Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, will specifically deal with entitlement reform.  To not address entitlement programs, as is the case with the budget the president has put forward, would be an economic and moral failure.  By acting now, we can fulfill the mission of health and retirement security for all Americans without making changes for those in or near retirement.  And we can keep the promises we have made to our children.”
 
On Republican efforts in the House to address debt and size of government:

 
“We have a moral responsibility to deal with this threat to freedom and liberate our economy from the shackles of debt and unrestrained government.  Our new majority in the House began this work by humbling ourselves and finding ways to exercise frugality.  We banned earmarks, which had become a symbol of a broken Washington.  We replaced rules making it easy to increase spending with reforms making it easier to cut spending.  We cut our own budgets by five percent. … Earlier this month, the House approved more than $100 billion in spending cuts compared to what President Obama requested for the current fiscal year.  …  Next month, we will propose cutting or eliminating wasteful mandatory spending programs.  …  And we’re fighting to end taxpayer funding for abortion once and for all … we’re working to protect life.”
 
On government and internet:

“Our new majority in the House is committed to using every tool at our disposal to fight a government takeover of the Internet.  Congressman Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, has pledged, in his words, to be ‘a dog to the Frisbee on this issue.’  … Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, a former broadcaster himself, has introduced a congressional resolution of disapproval to reverse the FCC’s net neutrality rules.  I’m pleased to report the House will act on this measure as early as next month.”

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