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John Campbell Talks To Speaker John Boehner

Thursday, March 21, 2013

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JC: Welcome, Speaker Boehner, to the Hugh Hewitt Show. It’s great to have you on the show.

JB: Well John, it’s good to be with you.

JC: I have a bunch of questions, and we’ll see what we can get to during this time. But one of the first things I’d like you to maybe explain to the listeners here, I have the opportunity to hear you speak in conference virtually every week. And I know your commitment to reducing the deficit and getting spending under control, and getting the budget to balance. And I know, because I’ve seen it, your commitment to that is very deep, and frankly, very emotional. And I’ve watched that with you over the months and years that we’ve been fighting this President on this. Tell us, if you can, about your commitment to that, and why you feel it’s so important.

JB: Well, listen, I didn’t come to Congress because I needed a job, or needed some fancy title. I came to Congress because I wanted to do something on behalf of my country. And I didn’t want to be Speaker because I needed this big office and this great view looking down at the National Mall. I wanted to be Speaker so that I could lead an effort to do good things for our country. and right now, I think our spending is out of control, our debt is too large, and it’s going to imperil the future for our kids and our grandkids. I came here to renew the American dream for our kids, and that’s why this is very emotional for me. I get very worked up over it, and I’ve watched leaders for 22 years kick this can down the road, kick it down the road and never want to deal with it, because it’s hard. Well, I made up my mind two years ago. We are not going to kick the can down the road. We are going to deal with our spending problem.

JC: So Mr. Speaker, one of the things I know you have, that you got recently, a couple of weeks ago, I believe is a letter from 170 economists, something about spending. Can you tell us what that is?

JB: Well, we got a letter from 180 economists saying that spending is the problem, and that bey reducing spending and putting us on a firmer fiscal path, we will give confidence to the economy and help grow the economy. And that’s really the whole point, and this is where the President and I have a big disagreement. He thinks that federal spending helps spur the economy. But he doesn’t realize that we’re also running up deficits and debts that dampen economic activity. And so 180 economists believe that cutting spending will improve our economy and put more Americans back to work.

JC: And Speaker Boehner, people from the Hugh Hewitt Show, I believe they can find this, if they want to see this letter and some of your other positions on this, at your website, www.speaker.gov/spendingistheproblem. So that’s www.speaker.gov/spendingistheproblem. Now earlier today, Speaker Boehner, we passed the House budget, which many people think of as the Paul Ryan budget. So either way, we passed the House budget today. I don’t believe a single Democrat voted for it, I think. So that’s passed. Now the Senate, I believe, is going to take up their budget tomorrow. Let’s assume for the moment that they pass a budget over there. What happens next?

JB: Well, typically what would happen is that the House and Senate would enter into a conversation, maybe even enter into a formal conference to resolve the differences between the two. But the differences between these two budgets is incredibly wide. Our budget balances in ten years and has no increase in taxes. Their budget has a trillion dollars’ worth of tax increases and never balances. And so trying to come to an agreement between the two houses on a budget, I think, maybe…it’s going to be very, very difficult. And on top of that, the President was supposed to submit his budget on February 4th. We still don’t have it. There’s rumors that he may file it with us on April 8th, two months late. And the President says well, my goal isn’t to balance the budget just for the sake of balancing the budget. So it’s going to be very difficult to reconcile this spending issue until people would recognize that at some point, you can’t continue to spend money you don’t have. We’ve spent more money than what we’ve brought in in 50 of the last 60 years. Now no business can run that way, no household can run that way. And this $16 trillion dollars’ worth of debt, and another trillion dollars this year, is not going to help brighten the future for our kids and our grandkids. I was trying to explain this to a 16 year old high school blogger in my office last week. And she said well, how can you put this in terms that I and my friends would understand? And I said well, it’s real simple. Your parents over the last 40 years have been spending $15,000 more than what they make. And that debt’s been piling up, and guess what? When you’re 22 years old, you get to pay it off for them. And she looks at me and she said well, that’s not fair. Really? That’s the whole point.

JC: Okay, that’s a good illustration, Mr. Speaker. Now…okay, the Senate, you said the Senate budget would be very different from the House budget, you probably don’t see them coming together. There will be a formal conference committee, assuming they pass a budget in the Senate, correct?

JB: Well, not necessarily. You can elect to go to conference. We could elect to amend the Senate budget resolution and send it back. There are a lot of different ways you can resolve, or attempt to resolve the issues. But there are, sometimes you can go to a formal conference. But that doesn’t usually happen until you’re fairly close to some informal resolution.

JC: Okay, now you mentioned that we hear rumors, because I don’t think he’s told us, I’m on the Budget Committee, as you know, when the President would come up with a budget and when he wouldn’t. But we’ve heard April 8th, early April, which is unprecedented for a president to be this late with a budget. What does it, how does it play at that point? If the Senate has passed one, and the House has passed one, what element, what does the President’s budget do? How does it enter into the mix at that point as far as you’re concerned?

JB: Well, the President’s budget typically has been a political document, and I would expect this would not be any different. Typically, you know, the President’s party would queue their budget in the House and Senate off the President’s budget. But since he didn’t submit one, they’re off on their own. So the President’s budget does not have the effective law. It’s advisory. It’s his vision for how he would govern, just like the House Republican budget is our vision of how we would govern. But from a legal perspective, legislative perspective, it has no impact.

JC: Now his vision of how he would govern, when he spoke to our conference a couple of weeks ago, one of the things that he said, which was pretty stunning to me, because he hadn’t really said this, certainly not before he ran for reelection did he say this, but that he did not believe that we needed to ever balance the budget, and that he thought we could get by with just a, that if we had a sustained 3-4% of GDP deficit, that that would be fine. That’s your reading of what he said as well, right?

JB: Oh, exactly. They’re looking at some sustainable debt level, some acceptable debt level, but we’re going to continue to spend money, more money than what we bring in, for the indefinite future. At some point, we’re going to have a debt crisis. And I got in a little trouble Sunday because I said we didn’t have a debt crisis today. But we’re going to have one tomorrow. Now I don’t know whether that’s later this year, next year, or the year after. I don’t know when it is. But I can tell you, just like every household can tell you, that if you continue to pile up debt, you are going to face Armageddon. And at some point, the piper has to be paid.

JC: Mr. Speaker, and again, if people want to see your positions on this, it’s at www.speaker.gov/spendingistheproblem. Let me switch to two other topics before we have to go here. One that I know the listeners of the Hugh Hewitt Show are very concerned about what happened in Benghazi, and the assassination of Ambassador Stevens. And I’m sure there’s many things you can’t say, and aren’t at liberty to say for security reasons, but what can you tell listeners or tell us is going on in the investigation of what happened there?

JB: Well, for the last six months, we’ve had five committees working together to get to the bottom of just what happened in Benghazi. We all think more work must be done, and it’s not just about what happened that night, but the systemic failures that led to the attack, and the concerns that many of us have that we haven’t fixed those issues. And they frankly could resurface in other places. The administration has kind of waved away the troubling truth that the American public should have understood from the beginning that this was a terrorist attack. Listen, they’re just not being honest about what happened. And I think it’s important for us to learn the lessons from what happened in Benghazi, hold people responsible and then use those lessons to make sure that we don’t see this problem again.

JC: Last topic if I can get to before we have to finish up here – Obamacare. I, again, listeners to this show are often very, more familiar than general public in terms of what’s going on, but many of the provisions, most of the provisions of Obamacare either have not yet gone into effect, or didn’t go into effect until the beginning of this year. So we’re really not going to, as a society, feel the full force and effect of what Obamacare has done to our health care, our health insurance and so forth until later this year, beginning of next year. How do you see this playing out? I mean, it’s the law of the land right now as we know, and the President isn’t going to let us repeal it as much as we’d like to. But how do you see this playing out as all these elements start to fall and take effect, and taxes kick in, and all that?

JB: Well, let me just say that we are starting to see effects of Obamacare. Huge increases in insurance rates. We’re seeing employers making decisions about what their employee mix and the number of employees, because in the law, there’s a look-back procedure that starts next year that looks back into this year and your hiring practices. So it’s already having some impact. Listen, there’s 20,000 pages of regulations that have already been issued. But there are 300 regulations that have not, that are due to be in effect by October 1st. I don’t see how the administration can meet those deadlines, and I’m frankly concerned that when we get to next year, we’re going to have total chaos in the health insurance market. And it’s going to be a mess, in my view.

JC: Speaker Boehner, I couldn’t agree with you more, and the other thing I think people are going to find out is remember that mantra – if you like your health insurance, you will be able to keep it. I’m almost wondering whether that’s going to be true for half of America. Anecdotally, from the people I’m talking to, the businesses I’m talking to, an awful lot of people will not be able to keep the health care they had.

JB: Well, tens of millions of Americans are going to lose the health insurance they like. And we said this during the debate on Obamacare three years ago, and somebody’s going to be eating their words. I can assure you of that.

JC: Speaker John Boehner, we very much appreciate you’re taking the time to come on here with the Hugh Hewitt Show, and again, you can find his information at www.speaker.gov/spendingistheproblem. Thank you so much, Mr. Speaker.

JB: All right, we’ll see you, John.

End of interview.

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