By Meghashyam Mali - 04/18/12 11:59 AM EDT
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) blasted the president on Wednesday, saying Obama had “lost his courage,” scuttling hopes for a grand bargain, and had “checked out," ending efforts to work with Congress.
In a pre-recorded interview broadcast on CBS's "This Morning," Boehner was asked by host Charlie Rose why Congress and the White House were unable to reach an agreement to resolve the nation’s fiscal challenges.
“And then two days later, the president decided he wanted $400 billion of more revenue, which was, in effect, a $400 billion tax increase.
“He lost his courage,” Boehner said.
He added that he was “not optimistic” about reaching a new agreement with the president. “The president checked out last Labor Day. All he's done is campaign full time for the last six months. He's not been engaged in the legislative process at all. There have been no efforts at trying to work with Democrats and Republicans to address this issue at all. And it's — it's shameful.”
Boehner also defended Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget from attacks that it cuts programs for the poor and wealthy too deeply.
He was asked to respond to a letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday that said the budget failed to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs serving the "poor and vulnerable people.”
“When you look at the budget choices that we have to make it's time that Congress and Washington and the president quit kicking the can down the road and address our challenges,” Boehner said. “I don't believe that our budget will hurt the poor in any way. I don't think it will hurt the safety net in any way. But we can't continue to spend money that we do not have.”
Boehner also defended presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney against Democratic attacks that his wealth puts him out of touch with voters amid a struggling economy.
“We're all different, we all have different personalities,” said Boehner about the former Massachusetts governor.
Boehner endorsed Romney for the nomination on Tuesday. “I will be proud to support Mitt Romney and do everything I can to help him win,” he said to reporters after a meeting with GOP House leaders Tuesday.
In his interview, Boehner expressed confidence that a protracted primary fight had not damaged Romney’s chances against Obama in the general election.
“I think he’s done a good job in a Republican primary under some very difficult circumstances and I think he’s prepared and will appeal to more than half of America,” he said.
“After any primary there’s always a little retooling, always some adjustments in terms of now you have a different opponent, so I think you’ll see some new things out of his campaign.”
The House Speaker said the election hinged on the state of the economy.
“This election is going to be a referendum on the president’s economic policies. They’ve not only not helped the economy, they’ve actually made it worse,” he said.
“When you look at his higher taxes, his refusal to deal with the debt, the regulatory regime here in Washington out of control, they’ve scared every businessperson and investor in America," said Boehner of the administration.