House Speaker John Boehner to President Obama: 'Come on! Time to Grow Up' About Deficit and Taxes

Speaker Spars with President Over Debt, Says Private Sector Should Run Medicare.

ByABC News
April 25, 2011, 5:20 PM

April 25, 2011 — -- House Speaker John Boehner said President Obama needs to "grow up" in talks over deficit reduction.

During an interview with ABC News in his Ohio district today, Boehner said he personally trusts the president, but accused him of not being honest with Americans about taxes, Medicare and deficit reduction.

You can watch that portion of the interview HERE.

The topic was the bipartisan deficit commission, which was appointed by the president and issued a controversial report late last year recommending tough spending cuts, tax reforms and reforming Medicare and Social Security.

"While I didn't agree with everything they did, there was a lot in their proposal that was worth of consideration. And what did the president do? He took exactly none of his own deficit reduction commission's ideas. Not one. Come on! It's time to grow up and get serious about the problems that face our country," Boehner said.

Despite that, Boehner said that he trusts the president and was prepared to negotiate with him on how to resolve the budget problems.

"I get along with him fine," he said. "I wouldn't say we're close friends, but it's -- we're polite. We get along fine. We look each other in the eye and we're straight and honest with each other."

But Boehner accused the president of not being "honest with the American people." He said he still felt Obama said one thing about deficit reduction behind closed doors and then demonized Republicans during a speech directing Congress to use the deficit commission and come up with concrete proposals.

"You know, I met with him, along with the other leaders -- before he gave that speech that day. And we had a real honest conversation about raising taxes," Boehner said.

"And both Senator [Mitch] McConnell and I made it clear to the president we're not raising taxes. And he seemed to understand that we weren't going to raise taxes," he said. "We debated about how we were going to move forward in terms of the kind of changes we're going to make. And it was a serious conversation.

"Then the president goes out that same afternoon and gives this partisan, political campaign speech -- that -- frankly, I was -- I can't tell you how disappointed I was in the president in not being honest with the American people about the big problems that we face," he said. "And the fact that it's time to own up, fess up and quit whistling past the graveyard."

Boehner said he understands that Americans support higher taxes for the rich, but that would hurt the economy, he said, and be unfair.

"It's the old adage that legislators talk about. 'Don't tax me, don't tax me. But tax the man behind the tree,'" he said.

Boehner argued that Republicans, at least, have a plan -- the Paul Ryan budget, which all but four House Republicans supported this month.

But Boehner took issue with Democrats' argument that it would "end Medicare as we know it," which he dismissed as "Democrat talk." He pointed out that Ryan's proposal would change Medicare to a more market-based system for people under 55 -- one that bears similarities to the health reform law passed last year by Democrats.

See ABC's analysis of similarities between the Ryan plan for Medicare and the health reform law.

Democrats have said that Republicans' vote to transform Medicare under the Ryan proposal will cost them control of the House of Representatives. And Boehner at first seemed to back away from his support for Ryan, calling his Medicare proposal "Paul's idea" and "certainly worth of consideration" before clarifying: "I voted for it. I'm in for it."

You can watch that portion of the interview HERE.

"Frankly, having the private sector -- run the program is far more efficient than having the government run it," Boehner said of Medicare.

To read what Speaker Boehner had to say about skyrocketing gas prices and President Obama, click HERE.

For a full transcript of this interview, click HERE.