June 30th, 2010
12:09 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama weighs in on Boehner and Barton controversies

President Obama is in Wisconsin on Wednesday touting his economic plan.
President Obama is in Wisconsin on Wednesday touting his economic plan.

Racine, Wisconsin (CNN) – President Barack Obama takes his economic message on the road Wednesday, traveling to Wisconsin to hold a town hall on the economy. But he also plans to use the forum to take aim at some recent controversial comments by two top Republicans.

"We already tried the other side's ideas. We already know where their theories led us. And now we have a choice as a nation. We can return to the failed economic policies of the past, or we can keep building a stronger future," the president is expected to tell an estimated audience of 1,300 in Racine, Wisconsin, according to excerpts of Obama's speech released by the White House.

Listen: CNN's John Lisk and Paul Steinhauser discuss Obama's trip.

The president's event comes one day after the stock markets on Wall Street tumbled, following a report showing a slump in consumer confidence and signs of a bigger slowdown in the global economy.

And the town hall comes two days before the Labor Department releases the June jobs report, which could bring more bad economic news. Economists are predicting the economy lost 100,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate, which now stands at 9.7 percent, is expected to rise a tenth of a percentage point.

The president is also expected to praise financial reform legislation, which is close to final passage by Congress.

"We're on the verge of passing the most comprehensive financial reform since the Great Depression – reform that will prevent a crisis like this from happening again. It's reform that will protect our economy from the recklessness and irresponsibility of a few. Reform that will protect consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. Reform that ensures taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street's mistakes," says Obama according to excerpts.

And the president is expected to criticize the top House Republican, who blasted the Obama-backed financial reform bill, saying if the measure "This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon."

The comments by Rep. John Boehner, the House minority leader, came in an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review which was published Tuesday.

"I was stunned to hear the leader of the Republicans in the House say that financial reform was like using a nuclear weapon to target an ant. That's right. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. The same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly eight million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes and their lives savings," Obama is expected to tell the audience.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says the Ohio Republican was merely criticizing the Democrat's financial reform measure, not minimizing the economic crisis.

Obama is also expected to address recent controversial comments by Rep. Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the House Energy Committee.

Earlier this month Texas GOP lawmaker described BP's agreement to establish a $20 billion fund for oil spill victims "a shakedown" by the Obama administration and apologized to the oil giant. Barton later retracted his comments after being shelled by criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

"The top Republican on the energy committee even had the nerve to apologize to BP for the fact that we made them set up this fund. Apologize to BP! He actually called the fund "a tragedy." A tragedy? A tragedy is what the people of the Gulf are going through right now. That's the tragedy. And our government has a responsibility to hold the corporations accountable that caused it," says Obama according to excerpts.

The president's visit to Wisconsin comes a week and a half after he traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to mark the groundbreaking of what the administration touted as the 10,000th road project to be funded by the politically controversial $862 billion economic stimulus plan.

That trip was part of the launch of the White House's "Recovery Summer," a six-week push to highlight what the administration says will be a summer and fall of job creation fueled by a new surge in federal stimulus spending.

The stimulus, which is formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was designed to boost the country's economy by increasing federal government spending and cutting taxes. Critics have repeatedly characterized the plan as a budget-busting boondoggle that failed to sufficiently reduce unemployment.

No Republicans in the House and only three in the Senate voted for the bill, when it was passed by Congress early last year.

This is the president's first trip to Wisconsin since last November, when he traveled to the state to discuss education. The most recent non-partisan public poll in Wisconsin, conducted in March, indicated that half the voters in the state disapproved of how Obama was handling his duties as president, with 44 percent saying they approved of his job in the White House.

Sen. Russ Feingold, who is up for re-election this year, will not attend the Wednesday event. The three-term Democrat, as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is attending the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.

Update 12:45 p.m.: "Wisconsin is famous for our hospitality, but it's not too often you get a guest with as much baggage as President Obama is bringing. Hopefully we'll get some straight talk today, because we've sure got a lot of questions that need answering. Of course, Obama might just be in town to clean up after Joe Biden's mess last week. After saying there's no way to recover 8 million jobs and calling a Kopp's employee a 'smartass' for talking about taxes, Obama can't do much worse," Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Reince Priebus told CNN, in a statement.

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: Joe Barton • John Boehner • Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. An American

    I don't think it's because they are out of touch with reality it's more that no one has confidence in obama, and why should they? he's done nothing but screw things up since his time elected. acting a total fool on the international stage. pushing bills through that the majority of people don't want. letting a disaster go unchecked for over 3 months, and he still hasn't done anything but fine a company a huge amount of money that if that company were to go bankrupt no one would see any of the money. the president is a moron, even Generals speak against him, and that's bad when that happens. the president is an epic failure.

    June 30, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. DallasTex

    I recently watched the documentary on HBO called "Gasland". If you have HBO... watch it. I am absolutely certain, that Joe Barton would watch it and think it was a comedy. It scared the crap outta me, and has made me rethink my stance on natural gas as an alternative fuel. The people in his district, from the Mid-Cites, through Arlington, and down I-45 past Corsicana, through Mexia, Crockett and to Groveton are in for rude awakening. Hopefully, you folks will never be able to light your tap water on fire. Because Joe Barton wouldn't give a crap if your house burned to the ground because there is a gas well in your back yard. He would just be adding up the money he got from Chesapeak, Exxon-Mobil, and BP. Wake up District 6 residents. Joe Barton doesn't care about you.

    June 30, 2010 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  3. MikeH

    Sniffit, don't worry, Phoenix86 is feverishly typing out his deranged posts at the psych ward computer, him and all the other wack-jobs who post delusional right-wing (reich-wing) rants here.

    Theirs is a simple comic-book-like world, best to pay them no mind and let them rant so all may see that they are mad.

    June 30, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  4. graham McNeil

    This all makes me so sick. If the media was not so liberally corupt you people might know what is actually happening. The government has shown over and over and over they they cannot run this country. Has anyone on this message board ever worked a day in their life? Yesterday was the fourth incedent where I was in the grocery store and the person in front of me pulled out a wad of $100 dollar bills to sort through to find their food stamps to pay fo their groceries. I am working my butt off everyday so Obama and company can spread my hard earned money to these dishonest drug dealers who completely abuse the system. Maybe if you quit giving them everything they would get off their butts and start working and quit wasting mine and all other tax payers money......democrats disugst me....p.s. clinton's loan program is the reason for inflation and this depression....go read some news that isnt completely biased

    June 30, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. John

    I do not understand the progressives point here. Obama is doing a great job, but it is Bush's fault? So is he doing a good job or is everything bad and it is Bush's fault?
    The G8/G20 leaders decided BO's direction was not the way to go. So progressives – better than 50% of the American people agree with the G8/G20 leaders, but they are all wrong and you progressives are right? Right...

    June 30, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. bnksshly

    I stand behind what President Obama is doing because of just that. The man is doing. I don't agree with everything he has put in place, but I'm willing to ride this thing out and see what happens. I'm not a fortune teller and history doesn't always tell twhat's going to happen in the future, but I do know that as long as this man keeps doing something and keeps pushing the country good things will come. Some of the things he has done have jilted a lot of people, but his campaign was about change. And change isn't always going to be suttle. So I think he should keep up the good work and we'll see how November 2012 turns out.

    June 30, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  7. Wow

    Wow.... so even the president doesn't even know the Democrats had control of the house and senate since 2006...... Amazing... I love you guys trying to change history..... So it was the GOP's fault even though the Democrats held the power in the house and senate?? just amazing........ Libtards…

    June 30, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. common sense

    Gt,i see that you like throwing grouts out there,when referring to the potus.Are you really that stupid or uneducated or just uninformed.The last i checked,the democrats did not put us in this mess.It was the republican controlled senate,and house,by giving Bush a blank check to do what he wanted as pres.It was the millions of dollars paid to Iraq for an unjust war,which thousands of family members around the world are still waiting for justice.A war in Iraq,that had nothing to do with 911.A war that republican had to borrow money from China to help pay for,because it was draining the american economy.So the next time you open that uninformed mouth of yours,know the facts of what you are spewing.

    June 30, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  9. vet in tx

    I love when people say that it was Clinton's fault for the housing bubble bust by having Fannie and Freddie give loans to people who couldn't afford them. Clinton told them to allow people to tap into their 401K's for the down payment with not penalty. What the opposition fails to admit (or acknowledge) that the lenders (not fannie and freddie) gave anyone a loan without VERIFYING INCOME! You can blame those to took the loan but it takes at least people to approve a loan. Why did they loan millions and thousands dollars to people for homes they knew they couldn't afford? THEY POCKETED THE CLOSING COST, AND IMMEDIATELY SOLD THE LOAN NOT CARING WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE THEY WEREN'T GOING TO SERVICE THE LOAN. That is the sole reason, not Clinton, not Bush, but the lenders greed!

    June 30, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Reading through the comments here and I see many from obvious Republicans that complain about Obama's deficit spending. I just want to ask these posters what they think about Bush's deficit spending. W's budgets overspent every year and never even included the war spending. The war spending was covered by piecemeal spending authorizations crammed through congress. It shows a very limited understanding of what Bush did in 8 years with the help of a Republican controlled congress for six of those years. Do you people actually believe that the Republicans will ever fix the problems they created or even own up to them for that matter? We should all consider the fact the there have been Republican presidents in the WH for 20 of the past 30 years...

    June 30, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Doc

    Way to make yourself look bad:

    I want less GOVT, not more – Bush created the Dept. of Homeland Security, the biggest expansion of the Fed Gov't in decades

    Less TAXES, NOT more – I'd agree but the bill is coming due. How are we going to pay it? Also Bush claimed that the tax cuts would pay for themselves. Kind of makes you think.

    Less SPENDING, not MORE – Bush started with a $236.2 billion dollar surplus and by the end of his terms turned it into nearly a $1 trillion dollar deficit.

    Less DEFICIT, not more – Same as above

    Oh, I finally get it!
    Bush wasn't a Republican was he?

    June 30, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. Marcus

    AnettaP21 – Your post is a collection of easily debunked lies and lines from Faux News and Limbaugh and the likes.
    First – EVERYBODY PAYS TAXES, even illegals. OK, they don't pay as much as a legal alien, like someone with a student visa for example, but they still do. 'Death and taxes' remember?
    Second – Again with the 'free ride' stuff? We know its not free, that it has to be paid with taxpayers dollars and that it has to have some limits/boundaries to its concession and use. And if we take the 'free ride' talking point to its limit, bye bye POLICE and FIREFIGHTERS departments (for starters...).
    Third – Could please get it right? The government does something on the Oil in the Gulf's Waters Crisis and you criticize, the government doesn't do something on the Crisis and you criticize... WHICH WAY YOU REALLY WANT? Action or inaction?

    June 30, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. John

    BTW, I think everyone should agree, if a person knows something is wrong they should say no to it. Otherwise they will end up with something worse than no, they will end up with how I refer to the new democratic party – the party of "oh no".

    June 30, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Eric

    Barry said, "We've tried their ideas..."
    We’ve tried yours too, Barry.
    See Greece, Spain, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. Failures, all of them.

    You see, Barry, economics is not based on a bunch of "ideas." It's based on facts. Hard facts that history has proven out time and time again. The basic laws of economics have ALREADY shown that spending money you don't have will not create private sector jobs. Period. The best example is Japan, who STILL don't seem to have read the memo.

    When refering to Boehner's comments, one needs to look what actually CAUSED the crisis... government MANDATING banks lend to unqualified borrowers in the name of "fairness."

    Now, I ask, is this a democrat idea or a republican one? Which party was it that said we need to set economic sanity aside and MANDATE by LAW that banks lend to people who can't repay the loans? Think it was conservatives? Think again.

    Barry also said, "We need to keep a crisis like this from ever happening again."

    Oh, don’t worry, Barry. We’re already working on this and it won’t take an act of congress to do it. Come November 2nd, we’ll make sure this problem won’t happen again… the solution lies in not electing Democrats back into the legislature for create more asinine legislation like the community reinvestment act.

    People, economics is real simple. Jobs and employment will only return when business owners and investors are more afraid of their own risk of failure than they are of government intervention. Right now, no one in his right mind would hire new employees or expand operations, given the astronomical amount of uncertainty this administration is causing. Oh, and Barry, on November 2nd, we'll fix that little problem, too.

    June 30, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. omnin

    Wanna know what the problem is?

    The United States Department of Defense expenditures for fiscal year 2009 are $651.2 billion.

    How much is Health Care over 10 years? How much is the stimulus package? Who is getting this money? But they don't dare call this welfare, it's warfare. I get so sick of this trash. Don't worry, Republicans think they've got it all locked up. But they just gave us the Hispanic vote and the Gay vote. The only thing they've got is the 24% that thought Bush was doing a good job, toothless potbelly rednecks in Texas.

    June 30, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. Dave, CA

    This guy does not know how to be Presidential. Going after Boehnner or Barton, shows that he has no other job to do. Go back to work. Go to Louisiana to help them. You look so stupid. You have no experience and your are in the White House. It is our mistake.

    June 30, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Sally

    Cindy Nesmith...are you getting your talking points from Faux Noise again? Bush came into office with a solid Republican Congress, for SIX long years! BUSH spent the surplus Clinton left us, Bush started two unfunded wars, BUSH tortured people, BUSH gave tax breaks to his buddies and let the oil regulations be ignored by BP.
    And gosh, if the Democrats refused to cooperate (what stellar policies of Bush did they block, in your humble opinion?) what the heck do you think the Republicans have done for nearly two years? Ruined the perfectly good health care plan the President wanted, continued to fund these wars,
    vowed to "bring Obama down" as if he's some statue, and basically made life miserable for anyone not approaching their tax bracket, because in case you missed it, Boehner expects you to work to 70 to fund HIS Social Security checks. You are on the wrong side, dear, but keep whining.

    June 30, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  18. Thinker

    The republican party created this mess, and are now doing all that they can to perpetuate it. They have shown no regard for the average american. They have to go. November can't get here fast enough.

    June 30, 2010 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Thersa

    Let's remember ten years ago how great everything was going to be with the Republicans in control. Finally everything would work with them at the helm. Well, they had their chance, just like they did in the '20's and the same thing happened.
    Conservative policies lead to ruin. How much more proof do we need?

    June 30, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  20. DoUg

    All you people are idiots. Its both the democrats and republicans fault that are country is falling apart. But you partisan hacks are too stupid to know that.

    June 30, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  21. one voice

    The GOP should be banned from Politics PERIOD

    June 30, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Obozo's Recod Deficit + Higher Taxes June 30th, 2010 12:44 pm ET

    but I vote republican to be anti-democrat

    -------------------------------–

    I don't scare easy, BUT, comments like this scare me. Are you really saying that regardless of the candidates, the issues AND their positions you would vote for someone who is hellbent on destroying our country simply because THEY ARE NOT DEMOCRATS???

    Seriously dude, or dudette? What a waste of a vote.

    June 30, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  23. Capt. Snarky

    "We already tried the other side's ideas. We already know where their theories led us. And now we have a choice as a nation. We can return to the failed economic policies of the past, or we can keep building a stronger future," the president is expected to tell an estimated audience of 1,300 in Racine, Wisconsin, according to excerpts of Obama's speech released by the White House.

    Yep, the Republicans were not the best at the stewardship of our nation. But " Increasing .GOV" and "spend, spend spend" are not sound governing practices either................

    June 30, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. DoUg

    Bush was clueless when he was president and so is Obama. I wish we had a presidency like Kennedy or Reagan.

    June 30, 2010 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  25. gh

    Reading through the comments here and I see many from obvious Republicans that complain about Obama's deficit spending. I just want to ask these posters what they think about Bush's deficit spending. W's budgets overspent every year and never even included the war spending. The war spending was covered by piecemeal spending authorizations crammed through congress. It shows a very limited understanding of what Bush did in 8 years with the help of a Republican controlled congress for six of those years. Do you people actually believe that the Republicans will ever fix the problems they created or even own up to them for that matter? We should all consider the fact the there have been Republican presidents in the WH for 20 of the past 30 years...

    June 30, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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