House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blamed President Obama and the Democrats Tuesday for the recent downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, saying that if Democrats had joined with Republicans in passing the GOP budget, which the House passed in April, ""it's unlikely anyone would be talking about the United States being downgraded today."
In a conference call with House Republicans, the Speaker told colleagues that the Standard & Poor's downgrade on Friday was not a surprise, since Republicans "have been warning (it) could happen for months."
"S&P said in its own report Friday that entitlement reform is the
key to long-term financial stability. We passed a budget through the
House in April that includes entitlement reform, and cuts more than $6
trillion. The Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama have
prevented most of those reforms from happening. And that's why we have a
downgrade," Boehner said in an excerpt of his prepared remarks obtained
by The Hill.
He blamed Obama for creating the situation, even as the president and Democrats publicly pointed fingers at the Tea Party.
"The President and the Democratic leadership in Washington are trying to
blame the tea party, because they know this downgrade is on [the
Democrats]. When we took the bold step of proposing entitlement reforms, they reacted not by embracing them and joining us, but by demonizing those proposals for political gain," Boehner said.
Democrats have said they rejected the GOP budget because it sought to privatize Medicare, cut programs geared to the poor and middle class and did not tax the wealthiest Americans. Democrats charged this week that the intransigence of the conservative Tea Party members scuttled a large deficit-reduction deal and led to the S&P downgrade.
Boehner on Tuesday, according to a leadership aide, assured rank-and-file GOP lawmakers that he is committed to transparency on the so-called supercommittee, which was created by the Budget Control Act, the last-minute deal reached to raise the debt ceiling. the supercommittee is tasked with making $1.5 trillion in budget cuts.
In the conference call, the Speaker said "from the conversations I've had with the other leaders of both parties, I can tell you there's a strong commitment to having open hearings and a public process."
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Boehner announced that he would be making his three selections to the joint committee in the next few days.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also have three selections each to the supercommittee.
"You can be confident the people I select to represent our Conference will be people of courage who understand the gravity of this situation and are committed to doing what needs to be done," Boehner said.
He concluded his remarks by imploring Republicans to "remember this is all about jobs."
"The events of the past few days show clearly that the spending binge in Washington is a drag on our economy. Shutting down the spending binge in our government has everything to do with jobs. This is a point that needs to be made at every opportunity," the Speaker said.