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. Jayson

    I am tired of Democrats who try to take credit for the budget surplus in the late 90's when the Democrats didn't control Congress. While the Republicans may have lost their way the Democrats haven't learned from the mistakes and are spending money as fast as we can print it off.

    June 30, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  2. inofritzn

    You are a joke Mr. President. you are not a leader, but a politically motivated opportunistic. All you can do is cry about repubs, if the job was too big for you to handle, maybe you shouldn't have ran for it. Go be a campaign manager, as that is all you are good at.

    June 30, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  3. Charlie

    When will democrats learn. You cannot control a chaotic system like the economy. All these reforms will do is create more bureaucracy, tax businesses, and cost jobs. These negative impacts and attacks on Wall Street affect not only main street but rural Americans as well.

    Why is everything a reform? Nothing original coming from this administration at all. They even reformed how the Government responds to emergencies and disasters. 70 days in the government has proven it is not qualified to manage a classroom of kindergartners.

    June 30, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Dave

    Oh please, Barry Soetoro!! It's called hegelian dialectics. It's one party with two names. Why do you think nothing ever works or gets done? This is totally orchestrated.

    June 30, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. stillpraying

    JUST MAKE SOME MORE MONEY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. There 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 maybe even 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 put so called stimulus money in their 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 what money can buy us. 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 (the poor mans luxury) for things we know we can't afford. Let's simplify things a little. And stop building machines that do the work of people. They won't admit it, but 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 intelligence in america and no remembers how to share. Greed. It's going to destroy the world. And sooner than we think.

    June 30, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Peter E

    And exactly how are Obama's ideas any different from republican ideas? Most of Obama's ideas were already proposed (though not necessarily implemented) by the previous administration. Democrats are hypocrites for hailing Obama's policies as 'change' just as much as republicans are hypocrites for criticizing those ideas that actually came from them to begin with!

    June 30, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  7. a health economist

    "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."

    As an economist I can honestly tell you that the way things were before 2007 with banks making lones to those that couldn't afford them and people living beyond their means through credit cards and artifically inflated home values, we do not want to go back to the way things were.

    As a researcher familiar with time-series analysis I can tell you that just because event B happened after event A it doesn't necessarily mean event A caused event B.

    And as someone that can think critically I can tell you that just because the Democrats took control of Congress in 2007 it doesn't mean much when there is a Repulican president using a record number of vetos stopping any legislation that comes by unless it please him completely.

    June 30, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Granger

    Sniffit -

    "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."

    Of course...the time before the bursting of the falsely inflated bubble created by inappropriate tax cuts and deficit spending is freekin lovely. If only we could find a way to make permanent all that fairy tale bubble inflation the GOP always engages in so the next POTUS/Congress has to clean up the mess while they claim "look at how great things were when we were in charge"...oh wait...that's not possible because reality doesn't agree with conservative ideology. Keep screaming and selling it tho...maybe reality will come around to your way of thinking.

    What a skew...uh...I think you forgot to mention your icon's determination to quadruple the debt...destroy any ressemblance of American values...he's willing to sell out jobs to legalize aliens all for votes...there's so much wrong with this guy...up to and including he being the only president to seal ALL of his records...and refuse to identify his origins....he's a liar and a socialist, and it's shameful that so many like you are still drooling over him....did we talk about the stock market continuing to slide after every time he speaks? More socialism..gov't control....you liberals are pathetic.

    June 30, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. David in Houston

    Tell it like it is, Mr. President!

    June 30, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  10. Willy Brown

    Barry is a socialist who takes orders from George Soros the defacto president

    June 30, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. John Metsopoulos

    Time and time again the Republicans show that they care ONLY about BIG Proftis generated not by American Capitalism but by pure corporate greed. An "ant" this has been the largest finanncial crisis since the Great Depression. He is an arrogant, ignorant man who cares ONLY about his own peersonal glorification. And to GOP supporters the term Lemmings comes to mind.

    June 30, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Maine liberal

    The unemployment rate, which now stands at 9.7 percent, is expected to rise a tenth of a percentage point.

    wait till 6 miilion more lose their federal extended unemployment benefits. thank you republicans

    June 30, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. valleygirl

    In the words of Nancy Grace. Boo Hooers of the GOP are crying again.

    June 30, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  14. Lucullus

    I can't believe that there are so many brain dead people out there that believe that this financial mess is all the doing of Obama and the Democrats. Time for a history lesson children. In the last 32 years the Jack Boot Right controlled the White House for 20 years. In the last 16 years, the Jack Boot Right controlled both houses of Congress for 10 of them. The controlled everything for 8 years! They got the chance to do it their way and blew it! Everyone keep screaming how Obama has bankrupted the country. Don't look now you morans (who need to get a brain), but Bush and the congressional Republicans bankrupted this country long before Obama came on the scene.

    And for the record Cindy Nesmith, Bush didn't try and fix anything. He was an incompetent who was foisted on the American people by the "activist judges" of the Supreme Court

    I don't mind people with different opinions but I am sick to death of no nothing blow hards and their uneducated opinions.

    June 30, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Chipster

    AnettaP21:
    "What is sane and rational about spending our way into oblivion?"
    I wish someone had answered this question when Bush was busy doubling the deficit and leaving behind 2 wars and $11 trillion in debt. Unlike the response to Hurricane Katrina, the Administration's response team has been in the Gulf since the first few days of the oil disaster and is holding BP accountable. Katrina only lasted a few days but his crisis is ongoing until the oil stops flooding. The clean up from this will take years and years. We brought this on ourselves with our addition to oil and refusal to take the necessary action to replace fossil fuels or require industries to meet safety standards. It's all about profit and comfort until something like this happens. Then it's all about blame but never about personal responsibility.

    June 30, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  16. MP

    The equation is simple.
    Democrats = Big spending for the sake of the people (the middle class and the lower income groups).
    Republican = Big spending for the sake of the big corporation, the unnecessary war in Iraq and the top 10% wealthy individuals.
    As someone from the middle class, I will go with the democrats.

    June 30, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Dave, CA

    Felicia, You can stand by your president always and then go to Chicago with him. You loser.

    June 30, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  18. katiec

    How can anyone doubt that the republicans have and will continue to support Wall St over the survival of us and our country? They almost destroyed our country, take no responsibility for their actions, have no acceptable workable plans, campaign on hate, anger, hypocrasy, fear mongering with goals to destroy our president, win at any cost, party first, and, continue with their efforts to eliminate middle class America.
    They have obstructed everything regardless of merits. They do not support Financial Reform. voted against health care designed for us, and, now, are saying no to survival of those who hav e lost their jobs.
    Voters, we have to get these big business lovers out of office.

    June 30, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. D. Bunker

    I see the ignorant GOBPbaggers are at it again with their lies. The vast majority of the deficit is NOT due to Obama or the Dems. Do some research first before posting your lies.

    And deficit spending, aka Keynesian economics, has been PROVEN to work. You just have to repay that deficit spending when times get better. Instead, nutjobs like Bush and his cultist enablers decided that Clinton's budget surplus had to go to the ultrawealthy rather than the deficit. Tax cuts have been PROVEN not to work (they never generate more revenue than the cuts cost). I'm sorry to break this to you crazy people, but facts are facts. You just can't stand that "facts have a liberal bias" (thank you Stephen Colbert!). Get a clue and grow up.

    June 30, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. jaybally

    Birds of a Feather , Flock together! G.W. , Dick Cheney, Joe Barton, John Boehner,etc !

    June 30, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  21. keeth in california

    Obama could do much worse: he could do as the Republicans want him to do - kill financial reform, kill health care reform, kill the $20 billion escrow for the Gulf, kill unemployment benefits, and kill jobs, because according to the Republicans, everything is peachy keen and the market will straighten everything out by itself, just like it has done since September 2008... oh, wait....

    June 30, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  22. CaliforniaBC

    It's amazing to me how the GOP and people like Boehner STILL scream about the Stimulus as a job killer and made things worse for the country. But please answer me this, "If it made things worse then wouldn't we be in a depression right now, rather than in a recovery?"

    How can they even think we're worse off when it has been shown that their policies created the conditions for the massive economic failure and the Congressional Budget Office (the agreed upon independent analysis agency) has stated that it was the Stimulus that kept us from falling into another depression? Look it up. Do some research. See how the GOP is purposefully misleading voters and playing on their fears to get their votes then forget about them 2 minutes afterwards.

    June 30, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. NVa Native

    In a capitaist society when a lot of people stop spending (for what ever reason) it causes a recession.
    The only thing that reverses it is when people start spending.
    The way the Repubs get people to continue to not spend is to scare them (fox, rush, religious radicals, rascism, "them against us", etc,) and keep them in dire straights (cut un-employment benefits, government assitance programs, etc.).
    So who do you want running your government – the people who hate it?

    June 30, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. all of america

    obama is the worst leader we have ever had .If we listen to this looser on how to recover from this ecomic turn down , we will never recover. We are all tired of this errogant moron blaming the Bush administration for all of his problems.Obama needs to go back to his old job , being a janitor at harvard.

    June 30, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Oh for the love of Pete. You left-wing nut jobs just don't get it. So why should I even try?????

    June 30, 2010 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
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