Boehner: Obama, Democrats "In Denial" after Elections

With tears in his eyes, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio celebrates the GOP's victory that changes the balance of power in Congress and will likely elevate him to speaker of the House, during an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010. AP

President Obama acknowledged yesterday that he and the Democratic Party took a "shellacking" in the midterm elections, but the presumed next speaker of the House is unconvinced the president received the message voters were sending on Nov. 2.

"There seems to be some denial on the part of the president and other Democratic leaders of the message that was sent by the American people," House Republican Leader John Boehner said in an interview that aired on ABC's "World News" tonight. "When you have the most historic election in over 60, 70 years, you would think the other party would understand that the American people have clearly repudiated the policies they've put forward in the last two years."

One such policy is health care reform, Boehner said. He stood by his promise to try to repeal the massive legislative package.

"I'm pretty confident that come next year that we will have the votes to repeal that [health care] bill and replace it with common sense reforms to bring down the cost of health insurance and expand access," he said.

President Obama, meanwhile, said at a press conference Wednesday that while he is willing to work with Republicans to refine the health care bill, it would be "misreading the election if we thought that the American people want to see us for the next two years relitigate arguments that we had over the last two years."

The president, however, has signaled a willingness to work meaningfully with Republicans. He has invited the top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders to the White House on November 18 for what he said should be substantive discussions on the upcoming lame duck session in Congress.

One topic certain to come up will be an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Democrats have said they want to extend all of them except for the wealthiest Americans, while Republicans have called for an extension of all the tax cuts. The Tea Party, meanwhile, wants a permanent extension of all the tax cuts. Boehner would not say whether he would support a temporary extension of all the tax cuts or a permanent extension.

"We're going to have this debate in Congress," he said.

As for whether he could enjoy a Slurpee with the president at their Nov. 18 meeting, Boehner said, "I don't know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?"

Boehner took a less defiant tone when speaking about his relationship with the president than Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has in the wake of the election. McConnell said that in order for Republicans to accomplish the items on their agenda, they needed to ensure Mr. Obama is a one-term president.

Boehner, however, said his priority was job creation: "I think the American people want us to focus on their message during the election: stop the spending, get rid of the uncertainty. Let's get around to creating jobs again."

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