Boehner: Government Needs To Tighten Its Belt

(CBS)
House Minority Leader John Boehner said that struggling American families "don't see government tightening its belt," and argued for a spending freeze because government, he said, should "lead by example."

On CBS News' Face the Nation Sunday the House Minority Leader was asked by host Bob Schieffer to respond to White House Budget Director Peter Orszag's assertion earlier in the program that Republicans have not come up with a viable alternative to the spending bill being prepared by President Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Boehner said the Republican plan "costs half as much as the president's proposal and would have created twice as many jobs.

"Their budget spends too much, it taxes too much and it borrows too much from our kids and grandkids," he said.

Boehner said Americans want government to practice the same financial restraint they have been forced to exercise: "It's time for government to tighten their belts and show the American people that we 'get' it."

Schieffer asked if it wouldn't be easier if the Republican Party, whose approval ratings continue to drop, cooperated with the increasingly popular president?

Boehner said he wants to work with the president and that he "likes the president as much as the American people do," but there are "serious differences" between the approaches of the Republican Party and the administration.

He called Mr. Obama's mortgage bailout plan a policy which helps irresponsible homeowners.

"What the president's plan does is ask the ninety percent of mortgage holders who are struggling to make their payments and make them on time … to help the other eight or nine percent who have acted irresponsibly," Boehner said. "That is not what the American people want."

Boehner admitted that dissenting Republicans have a responsibility to offer alternative plans. He said he thinks the $15,000 tax credit to prospective homebuyers is a good part of the stimulus bill.

Boehner toed the GOP line when reacting to a question about recent arguments over whether conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party. He avoided answering, instead saying there were many inside and outside of the Party who wish to speak for Republicans, said the topic was a distraction created by the White House "to divert people's attention from the spending binge they have been on the last six weeks."

He said that the Limbaugh "distraction" will not stimulate the economy or create jobs, as other GOP leaders said last week.

The Republican leader said there are many in his party who will take a more active leadership role in years to come.

"The reason the market continues to go down is because many people on Wall Street do not think that the policies the president is proposing will work," Boehner said.

He admitted that he thought America needed a stimulus bill but that he fears the version passed last month will only expand government and increase debt. "I think Wall Street is thinking the same thing."

Schieffer asked the Ohio congressman if he thought General Motors could survive bankruptcy. Boehner thought so, but he believed that stakeholders need to come to an agreement.

"They are going to have to do the serious work that they have avoided doing over the last thirty years if they are going to survive," he said.

Boehner said the federal government should not give General Motors any more money until the company proves long-term viability. "Anything short of that is just throwing good money after bad," he said.


More from Face The Nation (3.08.09):
  • Orszag: "We're A Relief Pitcher In The 9th Inning"
  • Reporters Discuss Rush Limbaugh Controversy (video)
  • Read the full transcript> (pdf file)

    To watch video of Peter Orszag and John Boehner on Face The Nation click below.