Boehner questions Obama’s commitment to tackling debt, deficit

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) questioned President Obama’s commitment to tackling the federal deficit Sunday, as he reiterated that major spending reforms will be needed to win GOP support on raising the debt limit.

Boehner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the president so far is “really not serious about tackling the big problems.”

“He’s talking about it, but I’m not seeing real action yet, and I think this is the moment,” he added.

{mosads}On dealing with major spending issues, including entitlement programs, Boehner invited the president to “lock arms and we’ll jump out of the boat together.

“I’m serious about dealing with this, and I hope he’s just as serious,” he said.

As both parties haggle over raising the $14.3 trillion debt limit, Boehner insisted that everything was up for discussion — except tax hikes.

“Now is the time to deal with the fiscal problems we have in an adult-like manner,” he said. “Everything should be on the table except raising taxes.”

While lawmakers came within minutes of a government shutdown in the fight over funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year, Boehner said such brinksmanship does not have to occur with the debt limit debate.

“I’m ready to cut a deal today, we don’t have to wait until the eleventh hour,” he said. “Our obligation is to raise the debt ceiling, but to raise the debt ceiling without dealing with the underlying problems is totally irresponsible.”

Boehner has repeatedly maintained that the debt limit needs to be raised. But some of the rank-and-file GOP members have aired skepticism about how essential it really is, including whethether August 2 is really the latest it can be raised without a default, as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has said.

Boehner tried to strike a middle ground between the two camps Sunday.

“I think it is necessary, but I understand the doubts,” he said. “They’ve [the Treasury Department] pushed the date back, so I understand the doubts and the questions, but at some point it’s clear to me that we have to raise the debt ceiling.”

He also stood by the Medicare reforms proposed in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget, saying that current retirees would not be affected, but future changes need to be made for the sake of the program.

“The retirees are going to be taken care of, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about that,” he said. “But we all know that if nothing is changed, seniors’ benefits are going to get cut…that’s why we have to deal with this.”

He also pushed back against accusations that Republicans were backing away from those proposed reforms due to political heat back home. Calling such claims “just not a fact,” he maintained that most constituents have been supportive of the proposed changes.

“On average, 80 percent of the people at these town hall meetings were supportive of taking big steps,” he said.

And on the continued struggles in the housing market, he argued that beyond getting the economy moving again, there is nothing the government can do to jumpstart the ailing market.

“I’m more skeptical today that there’s anything the government can do to resolve these problems,” he said. “It’s pretty clear to me that the sooner the market works through this process…the sooner we get through this, the better off this country will be.”

Tags Boehner John Boehner Paul Ryan

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