WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2011 -- As the struggle between the White House and Congress over how to get Americans back to work has heated up in recent weeks, House Speaker John Boehner's relationship with President Obama has grown "frosty," the Ohio Republican said today.
But he maintains that they still have a "pretty good relationship" and they can work together on job creation measures and to reach a long-term deficit reduction plan in Congress this month.
"The president and I have a pretty good relationship," Boehner said in an exclusive interview with "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "It's been a little frosty here the last few weeks. But we've got a pretty good relationship.
"That doesn't mean that we always agree," Boehner added. "But the American people expect, even though we have very different ideas, the American people want us to look for common ground and then act on it. ... We've taken some steps in the right direction here over the last couple of months. We've got a lot more steps to take together."
While the latest jobs report showed only modest growth, with the unemployment rate dropping slightly to 9.0 percent, little progress has been made in Congress on job creation measures since Obama introduced his American Jobs Act in September.
Boehner cited the recently-passed free trade bills with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea as recent bipartisan actions in Congress, but he said further action on jobs is being stalled by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
"We've passed 22 bills, all with bipartisan support, that would help reduce barriers to job growth," Boehner said. "They all remain in the United States Senate."
Last week the Senate failed to pass portions of Obama's jobs bill, including on bipartisan measures such as infrastructure spending, because Democrats pushed to pay for them with a tax on millionaires.
"Over half of the people who would be taxed under this plan are, in fact, small businesspeople," Boehner said. "And, as a result, you're going to basically increase taxes on the very people that were hoping will reinvest in our economy and create jobs. That's the real crux of the problem."
While Boehner said he understands the frustrations of some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, who say they are demonstrating on behalf of "99 percent" of America against what they say is the greed of corporations and the richest 1 percent, he chastised Obama for engaging in "class warfare" against wealthy Americans.
"I understand that we have differences in America," Boehner said. "We are not going to engage in class warfare. The president is out there doing it every day. I, frankly, think it's unfortunate ... because our job is to help all Americans, not to pit one set of Americans against another."
Super Committee "Has To Work"
Boehner said he regrets not being able to reach a "grand bargain" in budget talks with Obama over the summer, saying "nobody [was] more upset that we couldn't come to an agreement."
"I really thought the president and I could come to an agreement," said Boehner, who played a round of golf with the president at the height of the talks. "And I thought that, for the good of the country, he and I could have solved this problem. We could have passed a significant bill to reduce our long-term obligations."
But Boehner said he hopes the bipartisan congressional deficit panel -- the so-called "super committee" -- can work toward an agreement to reduce long-term deficits before a Nov. 23 deadline.
"They're hard at work," Boehner said of the committee's members. "They're not there yet. But I'm going to do everything I can to continue to encourage them and to help them reach a successful outcome.
"If it was easy, the president and I could have solved it. If it was easy, Congresses over the last two decades would have solved it," he said. "It's hard. But it has to work. And I am committed to ensuring that it works."
He said, however, that he is not sure that they will be able to get back to the agreement he and the president almost reached, which would have raised some $800 billion in new revenues.
"I think it's hard to put Humpty Dumpty back together again," Boehner said.
Boehner said that he remains open to creating more revenues through restructuring the tax code, as long as spending cuts are part of the equation.
"I believe that we can create revenue out of fixing our tax code and bring that revenue to the table, as long as our colleagues on the other side of the aisle are serious about cutting spending," Boehner said. "And I have tried all year, with every fiber of my being, to try to get members on both sides of the aisle, try to get the president to get serious about dealing with our debt problem."
Boehner called for restructuring both corporate and personal taxes, targeting a top rate of 25 percent, to "make our economy more competitive with the rest of the world."
"It would put Americans back to work. We'd have a broader base on the tax rules," Boehner said. "And out of that, there would be real economic growth and more revenues for the federal government."
"We have to get our economy moving again," Boehner said. "And until we get our economy moving again and we start producing more jobs, we're going to have all kinds of uncertainty, concern and, frankly, fear about the future."