WASHINGTON: The country does not face immediate debt crisis, House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday, but he argued that Congress and President Barack Obama must reform entitlements to avert one.
“We all know that we have one looming,” Boehner, R-West Chester, said on ABC’s This Week. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.” Boehner agreed with Obama’s statement in an interview last week that the debt doesn’t present “an immediate crisis.”
But Boehner took issue with Obama’s assertion that it doesn’t make sense to “chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”
A budget proposal from House Republicans would balance the budget in 10 years, a priority Boehner said this morning is important to the economy.
“Balancing the budget will, in fact, help our economy,” Boehner said. “It’ll help create jobs in our country, get our economy going again, and put more people back to work.”
“The fact that the government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year that it doesn’t have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes them less willing to hire people,” he said.
Boehner also said the House would “review” any gun-control measure that came out of the Senate. He restated his opposition to gay marriage, and said that, unlike his fellow Ohio Republican, Sen. Rob Portman, he can’t imagine a situation in which he would change his mind. Portman said last week that his views had changed since he found out his son is gay.
Boehner said he has a good relationship with Obama and trusts him, and that a lack of good relations is not the problem getting in the way of a sweeping deficit-reduction plan.
The challenge is in overcoming big differences, he said.
“When you get down to bottom line,” he said, “if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”
In meetings with lawmakers in the Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-led House over several days last week, Obama urged Democrats to be open to revisions in entitlements and pressed Republicans to put increases in revenue onto the negotiating table.
“We’ve got to, of course, pass this budget resolution in the Senate,” Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said on Fox News Sunday. “And then we’re going to move to the next stage, and that is the grand bargain stage.”
Alan Krueger, the Obama administration’s chief economist, said in a Bloomberg Television interview Friday that economic growth would be in the range of 2 percent to 3 percent this year.
He also said that agreement in Congress that removed the immediate threat of default has helped boost the stock market, and emphasized an improving economy.
Bloomberg News contributed to this report.