The reaction of congressional Republicans to President Barack Obama's first primetime address to Congress will be interesting to watch. Will they sit on their hands or applaud the president's proposals? CBS News anchor Katie Couric put that question to house minority leader John Boehner earlier today.
Couric: Leader Boehner, how do you think President Obama's speech will be received tonight by members of your party?
Boehner: Well, we've got an ailing economy that we want to work the president to fix. We want to help him deliver affordable health care to all Americans. We think that we can help the president move ourselves toward energy independence and I think as importantly help him keep America safe.
Couric: Recent show that 53 percent of the American public fully back it is stimulus package. Sixty-three percent of people we polled thought the Republican opposition to the stimulus package was for political reasons. So are you out of touch with the American people?
Boehner: No. I think as this plan begins to unfold and people begin to see how some of this money is going to be spent, they're going to be as upset as we were. And we were applauding the president for moving quickly on dealing with the economy, it's just that the package that was put together here on Capitol Hill, in my opinion, didn't meet the requirements of creating more jobs and preserving jobs in America.
Couric: President Obama says he wants to cut the deficit in half in four years. Do you believe that's realistic?
Boehner: I think the goal, frankly, ought to be higher than that. We can't continue to pile debt on the backs of our kids and grandkids to think that we can buy our way to prosperity. This is not the kind of answer that most Americans want.
Couric: One high-ranking White House official told me today when it comes to republicans on Capitol Hill the administration plans to hug them until it hurts. If you hug back, your base will hate you and if you don't hug back, the count will hate you. What's your reaction?
Boehner: Well, I think, Katie, at the end of the day what we have to do is what's in the best interest of the American people.
Couric: Do you think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole by not being more supportive of the president's proposals?
Boehner: You'll see us work with the president when we can find an agreement. But, remember, there are going to be times when we disagree. And when we disagree, we're not going to be the party of "No," we're going to try to be the party of better solutions.
Couric: House minority leader John Boehner. Leader Boehner thanks so much.
Boehner: Katie, thank you.
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