If I Were In Charge: What Boehner Should Have Said

On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner spoke with President Obama about the shutdown and negotiating a solution. Here’s what he said:

But if I were in charge, here’s what I would have said:

My fellow leaders and I spoke with the President Obama and Senator Reid today, and the results were less than optimal.

I’d like to clear a few things up. First, this isn’t really a shutdown. More than 83% of the federal government is still operating, and more people are being called back to work. The House has passed several bills to get more people back to work and more departments fully functional. Senator Reid stopped them all.

Second, we are not discussing a budget. We’re discussing a continuing resolution. Unlike the House, the Senate, led by Harry Reid, has not passed a budget since Obama was elected. When the government ran out of money, we just passed agreements to spend more. And we’ve had enough. We are spending ourselves into oblivion. President Obama brags about cutting the deficit in half. It was a trillion dollars we didn’t have. Now he’s proud to still be spending half a trillion dollars we don’t have. We want to meet with the President and with Senator Reid to figure out how we can stop having to borrow so much money, and to finally sit down and work out an actual budget.

Third, Obamacare. The House has voted more than 40 times to defund it. Senator Ted Cruz spoke for 21 hours against it, and we thank him for his tremendous effort. But folks, my fellow leaders and I are not naive. With the current makeup of Congress, and with Obama in the White House, completely stopping Obamacare is all but impossible. President Obama has, outside of the authority of Congress, made his own changes to or delayed key provisions of Obamacare. The employer mandate was put off, while the individual mandate was not. Last week, healthcare.gov rolled out. It has been a disaster. Even with three years and nearly $100 million dollars, they could not build a functional site. Clearly, Obamacare is not ready for prime time. What we propose is a one year delay of its implementation to give Obama more time to get it right. We believe that is more than fair and reasonable at this point.

Finally, the debt ceiling. I saved this for last because if nothing else, I want this to be what you hear and remember. There is money coming in to the Treasury every day, more than enough to cover payments on our debt as well as mandatory spending such as Social Security and the military. By law the President is obligated to pay those bills first. Unless President Obama does something crazy, the United States will NOT default. Our goal is to look at what’s left and figure out what we absolutely need and where we can save money. But again, I want to reassure the American people: If the President does what the law says he must, we will NOT default.

President Obama has publicly expressed willingness to meet with us and negotiate. But when we finally met, there was no negotiation. It’s his way or the highway, and that’s it. Likewise, Senator Reid has blocked nearly every single bill we have sent to him, and there have been close to thirty. My fellow leaders and I have offered several ideas, we’ve been more than willing to discuss them, but we have been stonewalled.

Mr. President, Senator Reid, here is our offer: Let’s cut some fat out of the budget, and let’s give Obamacare a little more time to prepare for the real world. That’s it. If you will agree to work with us on those two simple items, we can end this “shutdown,” raise our debt ceiling one last time, and move forward.

The ball is in your court. This is the last time I will reach out to you. You have my number, you know where to find me. I’d much prefer that we settle this before the fiscal year ends, but that’s up to you. If you want to wait, fine…see you on the other side. If you need me, I’ll be at home. I’ve got some shows on Netflix to catch up on, and the beer in the fridge won’t drink itself.

God bless.

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