Boehner: Government can't fix the housing crisis

Boehner interview for FTN
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on CBS' "Face the Nation."

House Speaker John Boehner is "skeptical" there is "anything the government can do" to alleviate America's housing crisis - arguing that, ultimately, "you're not gonna have more buyers until the economy improves."

In an interview broadcast on CBS' "Face the Nation," Boehner argued that government programs aimed at preventing mortgage foreclosures have failed, adding that the only real solution is to wait "until we get our economy moving again."

"Over the last couple years, Congress has really set up four programs to help with those mortgage problems," Boehner told Harry Smith. "And unfortunately, none of those have worked. And all they've really done is dragged out the length of time for the market to clear the problems. Which is unfortunate."

Following the 2008 mortgage crisis, the Obama administration authorized series of measures aimed at providing relief to Americans who were at high risk of foreclosure. In March, House Republicans voted to terminate Mr. Obama's signature foreclosure prevention program, the $30 billion Home Affordable Modification Program, on the grounds that the program did not work and that the money would be better spent if put toward the deficit.

"I was skeptical of these programs when they were approved," Boehner said on "Face the Nation." "I'm even more skeptical today that there's anything the government can do to resolve these problems."

If there were an easy answer to the crisis, he said, "then it'd have been passed and Congress would have acted, and the president would have signed it. But when you look at how big the problem is, it's pretty clear to me that the sooner the market works through on this process, the sooner we deal with the problem mortgages and get those homes back on the market and sold."

Boehner also applauded Mr. Obama (along with President Bush) for the work that led up to Osama bin Laden's death last week - and said that while there were some "real questions" about the U.S.' relationship with Pakistan, now was not time to "walk away from the fight." The comments come as some in Congress - including Republicans - have started more forcefully questioning the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.

"Our goal in Afghanistan is to make sure that we're not ceding ground to Taliban, al Qaeda, others - ground where they can plan, train, and execute attacks on Americans here and abroad," he said. "That effort has to continue. Because there are others out there. The attacks are continuing."

Questions about the strength of the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistani governments have increased amid revelations that bin Laden had been living in a conspicuous mansion in suburban Islamabad for at least five years before he was found. Many, including President Obama, have wondered whether or not high-level officials in Pakistan were knowingly harboring the man for whom the U.S. searched for nearly ten years since 9/11.

Boehner acknowledged that "there are some real questions that remain about their relationship with us. And I think it's time to...make sure that they have both feet in our camp."

But, he emphasized, Pakistan is an "important ally for the United States."

"I think that at this moment in time, we should be engaged, strengthen our relationship with Pakistan - not walk away from it," he said. "This is a country with over a hundred nuclear weapons. And the terrorist threat to them is just as great as it is to us."

"We've lost hundreds of billions of dollars that we've spent in Afghanistan and Pakistan," he continued. "We've lost thousands of lives. This is not the time to just walk away from the fight."