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. beevee

    I think the best way for president Obama and other democratic leaders is to keep pounding on the failure of the republican party and former republican president Bush in bringing the country out of economic turmoil. The republicans seem to exaggerate even minor missteps of Obama administration to turn the public opinion against the dems and the president very effectively these past few months. Time to strike back aggressively.

    June 30, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  2. Who Cares?

    FINALLY!

    Bring the heat and tthe truth. The media simply will not tell the truth becayuse they also are in the pockets of big business so it has to come from you Mr. President.

    June 30, 2010 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. Who Cares?

    Do you not know that a ton of the added debt is because Obama put the wars on the books instead of just not telling anyone how much it was costing and sliding it under the budget like your Champions Bush and Cheney.

    My God...Americans are dumb.

    June 30, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. hmmm

    Obama stinks.

    His reform bills don't address the roots of the problem. They make it look like something is being done.

    The financial bill doesn't even address the roles of the entities that drove us into the recession (Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac - also see Barney Frank). The bill will just drive up costs of every American (yes, banking institutions will pass the costs on to you).

    June 30, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. Scott O' Canada

    President Obama must wake up every morning and ask himself "what the hell did I take this job for anyway". Spends his day hopscotching from one problem to another and putting out fires with gasoline. The Puritan Republican'ts who created most of these problems aren't budging in there opposition to every thing. And if one were to look and study history, it seems to me that your president is one of the most centerist POTUS you have had in the last 30 years, so slamming him as a socialist or communist (even more humorus) just show the right wing desperation. The Conversative would be much better served if they wish to reacquire power by showing a more pragmatic and reasonable positioning.

    June 30, 2010 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. joe

    All you liberals and socialist make comments that make no sense. so do the Republicans. You all need to look at what the Budget Office came out with today. WE CANNOT SUSTAIN THE PROGRAMS THAT ARE BEING IMPLEMENTED AND THE COST. yOUR CHILDREN AND YOUR CHILDRENS CHILDREN WILL HAVE NOTHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO EXCEPT TREMNDOUS DEBT AND UBLIEVABLE TAXES TO SUPPORT WHAT THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION IS DOING AND CONTINUES TO DO. JUST LOOK AT THE RECENT SUMMITT. ALL THE SOCIALISTIC STATES AGREED THAT DEFICITS HAVE TO BE CUT IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. Yet our liberal preident wnats to continueto spend. It has to end. People better wake up and all you who enter comments to to read what is really happening in this world. Keep spending and you will be reading about riots in the streets of the United States just like it happening in the Socialist countries in Europe today......

    June 30, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. pc

    why would anyone of sane mind ever want the republicans back in charge? it scares me to death every time i listen to one of the tea-baggers talk. if the repubs had their way we would all be living in poverty except for the powerful in washington an wallstreet. we would have no insurance, social security, NO government to protect us from preditors. all the united states will stand for under the republican power will be wars, wars an more wars. please GOD never let that happen!!

    June 30, 2010 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. Susan in NC

    I, too, am standing with President Obama!

    June 30, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  9. Santex

    The good times in this country have generally been when the power in D.C. is split. When one party liberal or conservative holds both the legislative and the executive branch they get into mischief. We need that dynamic tension in order to have a double check on those two branches of our government. Unchecked anything is too dangerous as we have seen/are seeing.

    June 30, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. Four and The Door

    No, actually we have seen in several different ways how well the liberal philosophies of the Democrats play out in practice when given all of the nations money, all it can borrow and a fillibuster-proof supermajority in the Senate to pass whatever is desired at will. Look where it got us. 10% unemployment. National debt headed to $20 trillion and an economy stuck in the muck. No thanks. I've seen enough.

    June 30, 2010 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. JLNYC

    But apparently the economy is "strengthening" according to Obama and the admistration yesterday. Unemployment hovering at 10%, 13,000 private sector jobs created in June, peak job growth in May due to Census hiring and re-hiring, slower GDP growth now expected in the 2nd half of the year by ADP, Fannie and Freddie (sig. responsible for the housing crisis with nearly $1T on the hook for taxpayers to pick up) left out of the Financial Reform legistation. All this after 18 months into a stimulus mis-firing into non-sustainable growth initiatives. Yeah, looks like things are really looking up. I won't make the same mistake with my vote again.

    June 30, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  12. REG in AZ

    Some have expressed concern that a small percentage of the people at the very top pay a heavy burden of taxes while some at the bottom pay nothing. While our tax code leaves a lot of room for improvement it is still hard to have much sympathy for those in the top couple of percentage points or to rationalize value in cutting taxes for them. Take the Bush reduction in dividend taxes as one example and then when looking at any corporate annual report check the executives compensation, perks, benefits, Golden Parachutes, stock and stock options. Besides having a compensation package that can’t ever be justified or earned they also have thousands, tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of shares of stock both owned and covered by gratuitously given stock options – making dividend tax cuts extremely beneficial for them, while meaning comparatively little to everyone else.

    These executives and directors, the ‘good ole boys’ club, literally control their own compensation in running the company and by voting their shares of stock. They also control and strictly limit everyone else’s compensation and benefits in their companies. As explained elsewhere tax cuts to the very wealthy simply does not have significant benefit to the economy (the ‘trickle down’ theory is really a fraud as they just don’t spend in ways to benefit the overall economy), so why do politicians want to focus heavily on and rationalize tax cuts for these few? Because of the obvious benefits from campaign contributions, overt and covert support, including financing third party action groups (like ‘Swiftboat’ and ‘Tea Party’) and even in after office compensation with speaking engagements, investment opportunities, book deals, employment and so on – they literally become owned and controlled ‘puppets’ for these extremely wealthy, powerful and influential individuals. George W Bush even bragged before leaving office that he would quickly pass his father and Bill Clinton in wealth from these ‘kickbacks’ and you can bet Sarah Palin is drooling over them. If you ever want real political reform, you have to get money out of politics.

    The real proof that it is a con to say there is an inequity is in recognizing that the gap between the very wealthy and everyone else just keeps expanding, that as their spendable income keeps growing everyone else’s’ keeps shrinking. I don’t begrudge anyone success, especially when it is really earned, but there is no need to ever shed a tear for these people.

    June 30, 2010 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Gil

    Boner Boehner and Barton. The illiterate and best the republican party can produce. Losers!

    June 30, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "What is sane and rational about spending our way into oblivion? What is sane and rational about a national debt that now exceeds 10% of our GDP and as every economists has warned, is unsustainable? "

    What was sane and rational abotu tax cuts for the already-wealthy and deficit spending for wars we couldn't afford that put us there? What was sane and rational about not spending the money where it was needed first and then doing those things?

    "What is sane and rational about spending trillions on "stimulus" to create jobs and then find out 8 million jobs "won't come back?"

    What is sane and rational about deregulating large corporations and mega-industries and refusing to create incentives for keeping jobs in the states, failing to punish them for sending them overseas and actually creating incentives for them to keep their money and assets offshore?

    "or the largest number of jobs has been created in government? (which is already overpaid.)"

    What is sane and rational about blabbering non-stop when it's convenient that all the government jobs created were temporary census and construction jobs and then, again when convenient, claiming that it's a massive growth of "big government" and "big brother"?

    "What is sane and rational about a policy that steers responsibility to government and giving everyone a free ride (which we all know isn't free.)"

    What is sane and rational about a policy that rewards employers for failing to pay their employees a living wage or provide raises at least consistent with inflation because it has incentivized hording and consolidating wealth through investment gambling in the financial services industry while pretending that giving employers more tax cuts creates jobs and giving the wealthy more tax cuts creates a "trickle-down" effect?

    "What is sane and rational when 47million Americans don't pay any taxes whatsoever and illegals enjoy the fruits of our labors?"

    What is sane and rational about pretending the majority of people receiving money from entitlements aren't white people in rural areas in the red states?

    "What is sane and rational about a government that fails to uphold its' Constitutional Duties?"

    What is sane and rational about misinterpreting the Constitution as creating a "krischun nashun" and picking the parts you like )gun rights, states rights) while claiming the parts you don't like (separation of church and state, equal rights) don't matter, are wrong or are subject to the majority's whim?

    "What is sane and rational about our leaders who spend more time talking than acting to clean up the Gulf Oil Spill or their photo-ops showing "how much they care and feel our pain?"

    What is sane and rational about relying on talk radio and tv bobbleheads' talking points to skew your interpretation and perspective of the facts and evidence about what our President is actually doing and the substance of the statements he is making?

    June 30, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. THE OBAMA TRUTH

    This man only has answers of the Devil. If you are a backer then I pity you. I was a Democrat but no more. This man is pure evil with goals of America's demise. BEWARE...BEWARE...BEWARE

    June 30, 2010 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. scott

    @ Rick McDaniel... thats a $13 Trillion Debt, not deficit. Big difference there bud. At the end of Clinton's term we had a $200 Billion+ budget surplus and had those for 5 years...Bush came along and completely destroyed that with an immediate $400 Billion Deficit and it kept increasing. Obama's on track to reducing the federal budget deficit after Bush got it up to $1 Trillion by the end of his term. I'm not happy with the budget deficits either, but this all started with Bush...Clinton had us headed in the right direction- Bush came in and took that away now Obama has to get us back on track to clean up the s*** that the elephants brought in.

    June 30, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  17. stillpraying

    JUST MAKE SOME MORE MONEY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. The is no doubt where the money will end up then. The suits will get their money, and people can buy gas and feed their families, and made catch a movie every now and then. Talk about feeding the economy. I'm not a political geek but I do keep up on important issues that effect my family and friends. Why does government make everything so complex. We need to stimulate the economy, then stop giving money and credit to the greedy who are constantly finding ways to putting so called stimulus money in there own pockets! One thing about the poor and low income, we don't love money like the greedy with more money than they will ever need, we love to spend. What better way to stimulate the economy than to spend money on the necessities in life, like rent, mortgage, food, utilities, car notes to get around, clothes, and of course credit card bills for things we know we cannot afford to pay for. Let's simplify things a little. And stop building machines that do the work of people. Robotics killed the automotive industry. Greed. The money they saved on paying people killed sales because there were no employees to take advantage of incentives. All the intellegence in america and no remembers how to share. Greed. It's going to destroy the world. And sooner than we think.

    June 30, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  18. Victim of Dem stupidity

    I've noticed that most of the 'liberal' posters on here have no clue what is in the bill. Most have commented about how evil the republicans are (really?). Others have patted Obama on the back for his ability to spend other people's money...

    The truth is that the bill does NOTHING to fix the cause of the last recession... which WAS BROUGHT ON BY A DEMOCRATIC PROGRAM of forcing banks to make risky loans–then having 'the government' buy those loans to free up the lending market (Fan and Fred).

    Democrats, please take the blinders off and do some research... it's not hard.

    June 30, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Sherry

    What makes me laugh out loud is when people talk about "too much government" - but the minute they get into trouble, who do they call upon - "the government!" You cannot have it both ways. You either stop receiving your social security benefits and turn it back over to the government or STOP COMPLAINING!

    June 30, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Captain Awesome

    Boehner's comments are a non issue. I think the media and the president are trying to hype it up in order to keep attention away from the real problem: Soaring deficits, high unemployment, sinking consumer confidence and an environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, America....
    obama = Jimmy Carter

    June 30, 2010 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. ST

    I always ask myself where GOP gets the courage of complaining about the state of economy at the moment. I also wonder why the rest of us are not angry of them. The really messed up the economy. Who can forget the taste life during Clinton era. No one is going to let GOP sleep on the wheel again! The lesson was learnt!

    June 30, 2010 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  22. jim

    To Doug who says ...

    "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."

    Bush's veto pen was silent before the Democrats took control of congress in 2006. He passed every bill the Republicans put before him. Then, when the Democrats took control of congress in 2006, Bush's veto pen became very active. Bush vetoed every bill the Democrats put before him.

    So tell me, what did the 2007 Democrats did that was so bad? Bush didn't let them pass anything. The crap that congress passed under Bush was Republican sponsored, not the Democrats. Bush stopped the Democrats, so the only choice for the mess is the Republicans. Bush let them fly!! And you want to go back to that??

    I don't think that there is a single honest, working American who would say you're an not idiot !!!

    June 30, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  23. JJ

    The republican comments serve as a reminder of what type of country we'll have if they regain control. A country where the environment and livihood of millions can be ruined for the sake of corporate profits. The 4 million dollar donation by BP to republican pacs sure bought a lot – I hope it was worth it to the republican party, they're in on the destruction. We'll have a country where the banks and corporations can get away with virtually anything at taxpayer expense – as long as the republicans get their corporate contributions. A country where workplace safety is non-existent because it's too expensive for the corporations. All the while the republicans will continue to line their pockets with corporate money. And the rest of us suffer.

    No thanks, the republicans are right where they belong, in the minority where they can do the least amount of damage.

    Go after 'em Obama – they rightly earned every bit of criticism and then some.

    June 30, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. normajean

    The Republican party had plenty of time to put through a number of bills and improvements that our country drastically needed and they did nothing. They were asked a multitude of times to join the new Democratic president on propositons that needed their help and THEY SAID "NO'.. NOW THEY CONTINUE TO IGNORE THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AS THE OTHER PARTY IN A TWO PARTY SYSTEM and all we get out of them is criticizm. This is no way to run a country and if they can't play a helpful part in the work then they should just shut up.Personally I could not in good conscience vote for a Republican for any office and I will not.

    June 30, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Memo to Hugo and his indoctrinated ClusterFox friends:

    I'm sorry you forgot the official "Big Oil" White House with President and VP as former industry executives (Cheney still receives $ ), Sec. Rice on the Board of Directors for Chevron & Barton worked directly for Big Oil. Whom do you think implemented those Banana Republic regulators that penciled in reports, got hookers, drugs and job offers? Hint: it wasn't Obama pal.

    June 30, 2010 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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