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. 1flboy

    This president is a joke .
    If anyone dare question his policy he changes the subject and references their comments and questions them instead of addressing the problem.
    The president said the old policies were not working and we need not go back to them but the old policies did not have us 13 trillion dollars in debt. He promotes lots of projects but does not provide for their funding. It all sounds good but drives us further in debt.
    We can not continue to work as a welfare state and our people need to take responsibility for themselves. This is not to say we should not help the disabled or those who can not help themselves but we need to stop handouts to all the ones who are perfectly able to work and take responsibility for themselves.

    June 30, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  2. Pragmatic

    Republicans like to pretend that history began in January of 2009 [when Obama was inaugurated]. They forget (ignore) the history that brought us to January in 2009, and the consequences that we are in.

    The GOP defends BP, Rand Paul calling the President "un-American" for being too tough on that company, financial reform = nuclear device to kill ants, says John the tanned ... before proposing raising the social security retirement age to 70 as a possible way to finance the ongoing wars ... more wars? War forever?

    Democrats have a lot to answer for: the GOP is downright scary!

    June 30, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  3. Sally

    doug, it's so nice to be called lazy and stupid by you...we have never had an overdue credit card bill, we have always lived well within our means, and we will be retiring soon with a very healthy portfolio, no thanks to Bush and Republicans. We also give a lot to charity, volunteer in our community, and have both worked since we were 14. Our kids graduated from fine schools, and one is a lawyer and one a chemical engineer. No one did drugs, no one had an unwed child, and no one owes money to anyone. But keep up your little fantasy...must be easier to assume all libs are deadbeats, rather than admit that some true deadbeats are the Republicans in Congress living at reduced fees illegally in the C Street House.

    June 30, 2010 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  4. ETM

    The President has been forced to spend most of his first year and a half in office cleaning up the gigantic mess made by the Bush A ministration and Republican control of Congress for 12 years up to 2007. Yes some of you apparently want Republicans back in charge. I can only assume the Republican supporters want America to be a third-world nation, since that is exactly where Boehner and Barton would take us.

    June 30, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  5. Sally

    What part of "you got a tax cut from Obama" can RepublICans not understand. YOU GOT A TAX CUT! YOUR TAXES WERE LOWER...are you people just braindead from Beck's chalkboard stupidy?

    June 30, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. one voice

    We were losing 750.000 jobs a month, stock market lost record numbers, millions of people were losing their homes............ ALL BEFORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TOOK OFFICE.

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

    There is nothing but partisan hacks on this blog. Do yourself a favor and put a gun to your head and pull the trigger. If Dems and Repubs don't work together to solve are crisis then we surely are doomed. United we stand, divided we fall.

    June 30, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Barack.Hussein.Obama-America's-Benevolent-DICTATOR

    Obozo thinks the government controlling every aspect of peoples lives is the answer to all the worlds problems. He thinks they are too stupid to decide how to spend their money so he'll just tax/confiscate it and decide who will get it, ie. the unions and the slackers in society.

    His "economic policy" is one of wealth redistribution. Take from those that produce and work in oursociety and just give it to those that do not. Check out the old Soviet Union and current socialist countries like Greece and Spain to see how well that works out!

    Capitalism and the free market system is the worse system in the world, with the exception of every other system!

    June 30, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. lolo

    @ Jeff your jobs are overseas where bush and the republicans shipped them you moron. If you are not ready for change for the future you better look overseas. The republicans wanted cheap labor instead of paying you. Go ask them where are the jobs. You tea partiers and hardcore conservatives just don't get it do you? You people really need to start thinking for yourselves and not let Faux news tell you what to do. Talk about stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 30, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. 1flboy

    Stop the handouts for the lazy people who are capable of taking care of themselves and stay out of the pockets of those who are supporting this country. The working man is paying more than his share and we do not need more welfare programs such as healthcare refore for us to pay for.
    We are in dire need of a new president and congress who will look after the needs and desires of the people.
    Throw them all out if they do not represent your beliefs

    June 30, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. omnin

    I know how to catch Bin Laden and get the economy back on track in less than 6 months.

    Jobs: 1. Set up an agency of haters. 2. Fine employers $5000 for having an illegal working at their business. 3. Give $2500 to the person that reported the illegal. 3. Fine the accuser $250 for a false claim.
    Economy fixed.

    Bin Laden: 1. catch one of his top guys. 2. put him to sleep and implant GPS tracking device. 3. Ask him questions and give him information. 4. Release him and track him back to his boss.
    Terrorist Dead

    Too easy huh?

    June 30, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. NVa Native

    Now the morons are blaming BP's oil spill on our government?
    And the housing bust was because of Democratic politicians?
    They blame the pre-existing deficit on our current President?
    Loosing 750,000 jobs a month in 2008 to now gaining jobs every month is a bad thing? (It is if you are a Repub)

    This is what happens when right-wing propaganda is left un-answered. And when corporations are allowed, in some cases induced, to influence (or be) government officials. As was the norm of the Bush/Cheney regime.
    Why would anyone want these anti-government sickos to run our government? Like putting pedophiles in charge of a day care!

    November can't come soon enough to put these thugs in their place.

    June 30, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Billy, NYC

    GOP still believes that the old regulations of the financial sector is good enough even after the economy tanks in 2008. Wait! What is the definition of insanity? To do the same thing and expect a different outcome. GOP or GOBP are insane.

    June 30, 2010 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Darrel from Denver

    Not surprising to see the UPDATE wherein the Republican in Wisconson focused on attacking Obama and Biden instead of acknowledging the sorry state his party put our country in and the sorry excuse for leadership and commitment to moving America ahead we are seeing in Congress.

    Boehner and Barton criticism's from Obama are well-deserved. These guys are clowns, clearly in it for some other purpose than serving America, and useless relics of failed past practices.

    June 30, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  15. Wisconsinite - the GObP Loves Big Oil, But Hates Suffering Americans

    Thank you, Mr President! Come November I believe the majority of Americans are going to tell the GObP exactly what we think of them! We are going to VOTE NO to the GObP and their agenda of helping big oil & big finance and screwing working class American! Keep up the good work for us, the backbone of this great country, President Obama!

    June 30, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. John in Cal

    to those saying Obama is a bozo and blaming everything on the Dems. your eyesight is off a bit. your bozo left us with this mess and will go down in history as the worst prez in our countries history. Lower taxes?less Gov? Bush expanded all that and more so you need to get you head out your posterior and see the truth.

    June 30, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. lolo

    There is nothing wrong with Obma's record. You need to check the republicans records. Bush had a surplus when he got into office, where did the money go?. Oh I guess you fools forgot about that? No matter how much they show their true colors , the stupid patrol keeps on following them. I guess the followers are showing their true colors also, which is stupid is what stupid does, dumb and dumber. The republicans do not care about the American people, only their pockets. You just don't get it or is that you really can't stand that a black man is in the white house that you will do and say anything to make sure he fails. Just pathetic.

    June 30, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Wisconsinite - the GObP Loves Big Oil, But Hates Suffering Americans

    @doug June 30th, 2010 12:29 pm ET

    I don't think that there is a single honest, working American who wouldn't want to go back to the way things were before the Democrats took control of congress in 2007.

    You're out of your flippin' mind, Doug! Get some meds!

    June 30, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Thomas

    ...AnettaP21...Are you that oblivious? The previous REPUBLICAN administration RAISED taxes on the middle class and gave tax breaks to the SUPER RICH! You are either incompetent or super rich. Either way, your opinions are irrelevant to the rest of us.

    June 30, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. omnin

    Did you guys know that money/wealth doesn't just disappear. If you loose your home, job, land, car, etc. Somebody just gained something. Did you know that when 20K employees making around $20k/yr each get laid off someone makes $400 million. What kind of greedy piece of trash needs that much money in one year. And at the expense of that many people. What for 40 stock holders. That's why you life is jacked up, not because Obama, not because of illegals, and not because of some fake recession that they created. Remember the Oil Crisis that sent gas to $4.50, big oil heard Bush say he wouldn't open the reserves and they stuck it to us. And made record profits. Spread their wealth Obama, Please!

    June 30, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  21. U.S. Common Sense

    I find it funny how the Democrats think Boehner's comment is something controversial. Probably because they know that their proposal will knock the foundation out from under our economy, but want to distract us from that fact becomes someone is calling them on their proposal. The current Congressional leadership is a joke.

    June 30, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  22. Kitchen Police

    I fear the lizard brain religious racist whites will be the only voters during the midterm elections. If so, we can kiss solving any of our major problems good-bye. The Democrats need a greater majority in the Senate to accomplish the goals set forth my President Obama.

    June 30, 2010 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Bedtime for Obonzo

    Is it just me, or are all of Obonzo's speeches lately sounding the same, even if they address different topics?

    June 30, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  24. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    At least this President is trying do something that will help those who are not super-rich, unlike the party of NO, which deserves the new name GOBP!!!

    Keep up the GOOD WORK, Mr President!

    June 30, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  25. BillE

    Where were all these defenders of the budget and fiscal responsability when Bush was running the economy into the ground. Now all of a sudden they show up claiming Obama is spending too much. Spending to clean up the Bush admins mess!

    June 30, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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