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. ex-repulican since McCain picked Palin

    How old are you Obozo's Record Deficit + Higher Taxes? Some of you President Obama bashers are truly Junior High. Give him a chance, he told you that it would take time to get this country back in shape after 8 years of Bush.

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

    Mr. Obama, please name one idea you accepted from "the other side" that has actually been implemented under your watch and failed. Just one will do.

    Given that you were supposed to be the post-partisan President, I'm curious why you keep bashing "the other side". We're all Americans – there are no "other sides", only differences of opinion. If you were true to your word, you would maintain neutrality while Congress develops legislation. Your actions show you are not only partisan by highly ideological, making you unfit for the office.

    June 30, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  3. D. Fellows

    It is simple. We are becoming more and more a nation of the HAVES and the HAVE NOTs. It stared under Regan and the GOP. Under Clinton we had a surplus – Bush, more of the same for the HAVES and the profits from the War in Iraq ( Halliburton, Bechtold, etc). Now the minority GOPers are attempting to stall the many needed reforms of our new President and the Democratic majority. They also have the "dollars" to spend on disinformation advertisement used to try and fool the average American. We don't believe you anymore. Famous saying, "You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time!". We are with you, Mr. President.

    June 30, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  4. That old dirty feeling

    Notice the sick-looking yellow shower curtain Obama always has as a backdrop. There actually IS a shower behind it, so any of the reporters and observers can try to wash off that dirty feeling they get after his speeches and press conferences. Lie after lie.

    June 30, 2010 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  5. ConsiderThis - FL

    The name of the Republican Party has been officially changed. The new name is the Cancer Party.

    June 30, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. Bilobat

    Hello america, it seems that we just don't get it. If we continue to move down the path of extreemism we will never solve our problems.
    For the good of the country both parties need to work together to get things done. Stop towin the parties lines and work for america.

    June 30, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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