House Speaker John Boehner accused President Obama of diminishing the traditional role of the presidency by inventing "fake fights" over the student loan rate extension and parading around the country on campaign trips aboard Air Force One disguised as official business at taxpayers' expense.
"This is the biggest job in the world and I've never seen a president make it smaller," Boehner, R-Ohio, said during his weekly news conference. "The president keeps attempting to invent these fake fights because he doesn't have a record of success or a positive agenda for our country. It's as simple as this: The emperor has no clothes. They can't talk about their record on jobs because their policies have made the economy worse. They can't talk about their record on spending because the president's policies have added $5 trillion to the national debt and they can't talk about their record on gas prices because gas prices have more than doubled on the president's watch."
Boehner called on President Obama's campaign to reimburse the federal Treasury for his trips to Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina over the past week during which he made the student loan rate extension the focal point of his stump speech.
"The White House it seems is also entirely devoted to this type of petty politics. This week the president traveled across the country on taxpayers' dime at a cost of $179,000 an hour insisting that Congress fix a problem that we were already working on," he said. "This is beneath the dignity of the White House. Democrats and Republicans knew that this was going to take effect. Democrats and Republicans fully expected this would be taken care of and for the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers' money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic and his campaign ought to be reimbursing the Treasury for the cost of this trip."
Boehner said that the country is facing major economic and fiscal challenges, but still Obama is "wasting time on a fake fight to try and gain his own reelection." The speaker admonished the president for carrying on with "political stunts" that are not worthy of his office.
"Presidents have the ability to use Air Force One and all the tools of the federal government to do official business and when you look at almost all of the presidents they find official business to do along with their campaigning, but this one does not pass the straight-face test," he said. "You know it, and I know it, so it's time for the Obama campaign to pony up and reimburse the Treasury."
Boehner repeated his reminder that Democrats were in control of both Houses of Congress when the loan rates were written into law in 2007. He said that Congress has already taken money from what he termed as a "slush fund" to help offset the payroll tax credit, a precedent Democrats set by voting for the extension earlier this year.
"Democrats put this cliff into law," he said. "They're the ones that put into law the doubling of student loan interest rates to occur this July, and why they did it? I don't know, but the fact is as students are already struggling with the cost of college, we do not want to see these interest rates go up, and there was never any thought these interest rates would go up."
Boehner said he has spoken with Sen. Marco Rubio, who is crafting an alternative to the DREAM Act which would provide some children of illegal immigrants with non-immigrant visas to complete their education or serve in the military.
"There's always hope. I did talk to Senator Rubio about his idea and gave me some particulars about how this would work," Boehner said. "I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we're operating in a very hostile political environment and to deal with a very difficult issue like this I think it would be difficult at best, but again let me ask this question. The president of the United States runs around the country doing speeches, done a couple of speeches over the last 15 months about immigration. Matter of fact, over the last three years, he's done a number of speeches about immigration. Where's the president's immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue?"
As he wrapped up his weekly news conference, Boehner said of Obama: "Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go to work."