Boehner Downplays Rivalry With Cantor, Takes Aim at Obama

Following a headline in Politico this morning that screamed "Boehner, Cantor Call 'Truce,'" House Speaker John Boehner rebutted the notion that tensions between his staff and the No. 2 Republican's team had reached a breaking point.

"We've got a tough job around here and our members feel very strongly about a number of the issues that we've moved over the last year, and when you're trying to do real work in this setting you're going to have some very passionate people," Boehner, R-Ohio, said. "Members and our staff, they're passionate about what they do. Sometimes that leads to some disagreement."

Boehner acknowledged that "there's been a couple of staff rumbles from time to time" between the speaker's staff and the majority leader's office, but he said "that's to be expected when you're doing big things."

The speaker also revealed that he held a meeting this morning with the senior staff and members of his leadership team to stress "our need to continue to work together for our team."

"I feel good about where we are, and happy about the team that we have," he said.

One part of the article suggested that the two Republican leaders' top aides were hardly on speaking terms, and are banned from attending a Boehner-Eric Cantor meeting held regularly each week.

"Eric and I decided about three years ago that we would sit down, just he and I together, just so we could have a chat about where we're going and do so between the two of us," Boehner explained. "Listen, we are teammates and we have been teammates, and I can tell you that I don't think there's been a disagreement between Eric and I over the course of the last year."

Boehner dismissed the party infighting and instead turned his attacks to President Obama, using a recent CBO report as a catalyst for his criticism.

"This week we got word from the Congressional Budget Office that after three years of the president's policies, unemployment is expected to stay high for the foreseeable future," he said. "It's clear that the president's policies are not only not helping the economy. It's making it worse."

Boehner cited the American Infrastructure and Energy Jobs Act and the GOP's intent to pass a 20 percent tax cut for small businesses as two policies that contrast with the president's agenda.

"By removing government barriers to American energy production, the bill will help create private sector jobs and ease rising gas prices," he said. "By reforming the way taxpayer dollars are spent, it will ensure that American has safe reliable roads and bridges, which is critical for our long-term economic growth."

At the annual prayer breakfast this morning, Obama suggested that his proposed tax increases on the wealthy are in accordance with the teachings of Jesus Christ. But the speaker suggested that the richest Americans are already the highest source of income taxes and Republicans will work this year to bring down tax rates for both individuals and corporations.

"We have to remember that the top 1 percent of taxpayers pay 38 percent of the income taxes in America. The top 10 percent pay almost 75 percent," Boehner said. "I believe that if we're going to deal with the tax code, we should deal with the entire tax code, both the personal side and the business side. It would make our country much more competitive. We could have the debate about fairness in that context and it's something that I think you'll see House Republicans continue to advance as the year goes on."

Boehner also said he believes that there's "obviously a lot of opposition" to the president's directive that religious organizations such as hospitals and universities provide certain contraceptive benefits, like the morning-after pill, in their employee health plans.

"This mandate violates our Constitution," Boehner said. "It violates the rights of these religious organizations and I would hope that the administration would back up and take another look at this."