September 30th, 2010
03:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Boehner pledges overhaul of House spending rules

(CNN) - House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, laid out a sweeping reform agenda for Congress Thursday, promising to make spending increases much tougher if he becomes speaker in January.

Sticking to the GOP focus on skyrocketing federal deficits, Boehner said that too many congressmen currently "go out and promise their constituents the moon," which ultimately leads to "passing more bills, micromanaging more bureaucracies, and raiding the federal treasury."

Addressing the conservative American Enterprise Institute, he promised to help usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation, but also pledged to change House rules in a way that would strongly favor the agenda being pushed by fiscal conservatives in the Tea Party movement and elsewhere.


Specifically, Boehner proposing to do away with the "comprehensive" spending bills that have been a hallmark of the congressional appropriations process for decades.

"Let's break them up to encourage scrutiny and make spending cuts easier," Boehner said.

"For decades, the word 'comprehensive' has been used as a positive adjective in Washington. I would respectfully submit that those days are behind us. The American people are not well-served by 'comprehensive.'"

House members, Boehner said, "shouldn't have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own."

Boehner also proposed a new "cut as you go" rule that would apply to any congressman proposing the creation of a new government benefit or program.

"Under this 'CutGO' rule, if it is your intention to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size - in the very same bill," he said.

"Let's turn the activists for big government on each other, instead of letting them gang up on the taxpayer," he said, quoting Missouri GOP Rep. Roy Blunt.

Boehner pledged to "end earmarking as we know it," though he did not specifically promise to ban the much-maligned practice.

"Reform should be an ongoing and inclusive effort," he said. "I don't have all the answers, and wouldn't pretend to. I welcome ideas and helping hands from any lawmaker, expert, or citizen about how we can make this institution function again."

Boehner's remarks came exactly one week after House GOP leaders unveiled their 21-page "Pledge to America" - a document that includes promises to slash taxes, cut government and reverse President Barack Obama's health care reforms.

Among other things, the top House Republicans have pledged to permanently extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts due to expire at the end of this year - including for individuals making over $250,000.

They've also proposed giving small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income, while requiring Congress to review any new federal regulations that add to the deficit.

At the same time, they are pushing a domestic spending freeze, with the exception of certain politically sensitive programs such as veterans' benefits.

But while stressing the need to reduce spiraling deficits, they have not offered specifics on how to restrain the growth of major entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi didn't wait for Boehner to deliver the speech before slamming it. A statement from Pelosi's office said that in "12 years of a GOP-controlled Congress, there were an unprecedented number of abuses of power; a completely broken ethics process; passing major bills at 5:50 a.m. after holding a vote open for 3 hours; and countless deals with special interests behind closed doors."

–CNN's Alan Silverleib, Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash contributed to this report


Filed under: House of Representatives • issues • John Boehner
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. 34 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    I want a CAP on spending PERIOD. Federal spending should be capped at 90% of the PREVIOUS years tax revenues. Taxes need to be limited to 30% PEAK with EVERYBODY PAYING SOMETHING. Even if the lower tax brackets pay only 5%, they should be paying SOMETHING if they live in this country. NO MORE FREE RIDES!

    September 30, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  2. MAhole

    Nice try Mr. Orangeman. You'll just say anything to get the power back.

    But it will be a different story if you actually win on this strategy – I can hear it now – "I didn't really mean that – stop taking my words out of context."

    A vote for the republicans in this election is like shooting yourself in the head America – don't be stupid.........

    September 30, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Joan

    It will be a shame if the Republicans do get control of the House in November because it will set everything back to square one. You get what you ask for though. However, there will be one thing that will be very interesting and fun to watch. John Boehner will probably go from orange to red very quickly trying to control the Republicans in the House because some of them might be Tea Party candidates and others moderates who will not get along and agree at all. Add to the fact that the Democrats should do just what he did and stonewall ALL of the Republicans ideas just like they have done for eighteen months. He will implode. It will look good on him. What goes around comes around.

    September 30, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  4. Good job voters

    since I can't post on the story of Axelrod going on the attack against the administrations critics..i thought i'd comment here.

    For those of you right wing nut jobs and those undecided independents are constantly fooled...indicating garbage like "dems have control of the house, house speaker and the presidency" as if to suggest its' the dems fault we're in this mess? GO BACK AND CHECK YOUR FACTS! EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN THE PAST 2 YEARS HAVE BEEN FILIBUSTERED BY THE RIGHT WING IDIOTS!!! THAT TO ME DOES NOT SPELL PROGRESS! OF COURSE things will never improve if you have a set of 41 idiots blocking every single thing our president and this administration puts forward!!! makes me sick! see you nov 2nd! you and your tea partying idiots!

    September 30, 2010 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  5. Hugo

    Thank God, I think the Republican are finally getting the message. Stop spending and giving away money we don't have. Too bad that spending is all the Dumbocrats have for their platform. They may actually have some good ideas with regard to reigning in Corporate influence in DC now if they would only apply that same philosophy to their Union and lobbyist masters.

    September 30, 2010 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. Ben in Texas

    Boehner and other "conservatives" still haven't owned up to the fact that tax cuts = spending increases. Sure, they say they'll lower spending (in your dreams, just like Bush and the Bush and Reagan before him). At the same time, they will give more and more tax breaks (i.e., welfare) to the rich, which has the same effect as spending increases, except that it does nothing to create jobs or get the economy going.

    Independent studies show that we can fix the deficit in 5 years if all the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. I'm willing to let my tax cut go in order to get the deficit down to zero. Are you? Are the Repugnant and Democratic leaders? Of course they're not. That's because they represent Big Business, not the public. Just like they won't let go of their free health care and pensions for life. They are willing to give up nothing to make the country run better, because, from their point of view, it's running fine just like it is, thank you very much.

    September 30, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Expat American

    "....he promised to help usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation..." We have heard these manure-soaked lies from Republicans every day since January 20, 1993. Boehner should save his breath at the cost of depriving much of the country of a good laugh.

    September 30, 2010 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. CaliforniaBC

    Sorry Boehner you haven't gained any credibility back from your spending spree under Bush. Until you and your party acknowledge their SIGNIFICANT role in the massive recession we're pulling out of, then anything you say is tainted in hypocrisy.

    September 30, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain

    Boehner "...promised to help usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation ..."

    Right, like the one that just ended? You are so full of it, Boehner! You and your Republican thugs' idea of "coorperation" is to have everyone agree with you and if they don't, you accuse them of being anti-American, anti-God and aiding and abetting our enemies.

    I wish you and all your Republican colleagues would just go jump in a lake! (And I'm only using those words because if I posted my feelings more explicitly, CNN would never post them!)

    September 30, 2010 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    And the acronym for the name of the bill:

    IOKIYAR

    September 30, 2010 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  11. Tom-Vermillion Ohio

    Well Mr Boehner, I am afraid that you blew it. You had 2 years to work with a President that is truly on the side of the vast majority of the American People and all you have done is to obstruct, obstruct and obstruct. And now you want to 'dictate' on how money is to be spent or maybe better said NOT to be spent. What kind of leadership is that?

    In a previous article you said, "Reform should be an ongoing and inclusive effort. I don't have all the answers, and wouldn't pretend to. I welcome ideas and helping hands from any lawmaker, expert, or citizen about how we can make this institution function again." Might I add, too little, too late. As you should have admitted that early on, and I might have jumped in to 'help' the Republicans with a few ideas that would help get us out of this economic mess we are in. But no, what did you do? You egotistically propagandized not at all that which is NOT important to me. You infuriated me to the point that no matter what you say, I give you deaf ears. You have clearly demonstrated that you are deeply entrenched with your lobbyist croneys and no one else. You shall consider yourself lucky, should you even be re-elected to your post. Please think about it. You and your kind is exactly what's wrong with our country. 'Conservative' Democrats AND those so so called 'true conservative' Republicans, take heed, your existence in our Government is nearing an end because you are genuinely corrupt to the core AND democratically will be removed. Thank you for finally listening to a very angry voter and this angry vote is angry at you and your Tea Party-Lobbyist buddies.

    September 30, 2010 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "all the dumb retirees are going to watch as social security is taken away then wonder why their pure capitalism didn't save them. "

    Not really. What nobody is talking about is how the GOP is already planning this. You see, while it was a valiant effort and a disappointing bill in that it was not a public option or even single payer, the HCR Bill did one big fat wonderful thing for the GOP that they are drooling over but won't admit: they can now completely destroy SS and Medicare/caid and have something to use as a prop in order to blame it on the Dems. Watch. They will defund the living daylights out of both programs as well as the HCR Bill and, when the sh-t hits the proverbial fan, they will blame it on the HCR Bill.

    September 30, 2010 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. D. Bunker

    The Orangeman is a craven hypocrite. Now he's claiming he wants "clean" bills, but lately he doesn't hesitate to complain when amendments to proposed bills are barred. Make up your mind, crazyman!

    September 30, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "They may actually have some good ideas with regard to reigning in Corporate influence in DC now if they would only apply that same philosophy to their Union and lobbyist masters."

    Hey genius, every bill, such as the one at stake in the Citizens United case, has applied equally to corporations AND UNIONS. GOpers don't want that though. If they apply equally, it evens the playing field completely, so they fight those bills hard, because corporations have the hands-down economic advantage when it comes to spending oodles of money on their chosen puppets. No. Anything short of a bill that completely destroys unions and the GOP won't be happy and won't agree to allow reigning in corporate influence peddling.

    September 30, 2010 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. D. Bunker

    My response to those who complain about "don't spend money you don't have!" I have one simple question: Do you have a credit card or mortgage? Because if you do, that makes you a hypocrite. Credit can be a tool or a trap. Broadbrush thinking and stupid, mindless slogans do nothing to illuminate the distinction.

    September 30, 2010 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. Lisa P

    Addressing the conservative American Enterprise Institute, he promised to help usher in a new era of bipartisan cooperation...
    Hahaha! Had no idea he was planning to do a comedy routine! Talk is cheap. Walk the walk, Boehner!

    "Under this 'CutGO' rule, if it is your intention to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size – in the very same bill," he said.
    Well, that should make for an interesting mess. Will successive competing bills fund and then cut and then fund the same program? Or is this just a way to quietly eliminate some programs (Education, EPA) while the growth of others (Defense) goes unmonitored and unchecked? You know, there's a reason why "comprehensive" has generally been seen as a good thing: piecemeal = chaos. Relative merit and overall effect get buried in a series of one-on-one cage matches. But then I guess chaos benefits Boehner's wealthy backers (or at least they think it will). Why should he care if it hurts small businesses and everybody else? The GOP hates America.

    September 30, 2010 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "They've also proposed giving small businesses a tax deduction equal to 20 percent of their income, while requiring Congress to review any new federal regulations that add to the deficit."

    That's what you call a BRIBE. Considering the damage that the Bush/GOP tax cuts have done, in light of them being the single biggest contributing factor to the CURRENT AND FUTURE national debt and deficit (if not allowed to expire), this blatantly pandering proposal to cut another 20% for small businesses can be viewed as nothing other than (a) a BRIBE and (b) something so damaging that the GOP knows they can't do it, but are hoping they can blame the Dems for opposing.

    September 30, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "Broadbrush thinking and stupid, mindless slogans do nothing to illuminate the distinction."

    Yeah, but they win votes. Kudos to stupid stupid America.

    September 30, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Adalbert

    This guy can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction. In fact, today's republicans do not know and do not care about the truth. Their new strategy is corruption, lies and more lies.

    September 30, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. T'SAC from Virginina

    Gee, how do you filibuster when you are the minority with a majority of the opposing party in both House and Senate? How do you have bipartisanship when the other Party refused to consider your input? It would seem to me that whether the Republicans filibuster or not the Dems have had the votes to further the demise of our economy...How about wearing a nice RED suit "good job voters" along with your dunce cap so we can all watch you crawl back into you hiding spot with your tail between you legs after the sweep...

    I am T'SAC the original and I approve this message!

    September 30, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. Hugo

    "They may actually have some good ideas with regard to reigning in Corporate influence in DC now if they would only apply that same philosophy to their Union and lobbyist masters."

    Hey genius, every bill, such as the one at stake in the Citizens United case, has applied equally to corporations AND UNIONS. GOpers don't want that though. If they apply equally, it evens the playing field completely, so they fight those bills hard, because corporations have the hands-down economic advantage when it comes to spending oodles of money on their chosen puppets. No. Anything short of a bill that completely destroys unions and the GOP won't be happy and won't agree to allow reigning in corporate influence peddling.
    _________________________
    Thank you, yes I am a genius...Unions are no longer needed in America, there are plenty of ambulance chasing lawyers to represent any employee that feels they are being wronged for 33% of the take, aside from the fact that the Federal Government has entered the private work force and regulated nearly every aspect of it with Fair employment regulations. Unions are just another scheme cooked up to suck the money out of an employees paycheck by the Union hierarchy with the promise of a 10% annual return on their pension fund and an exorbitant paycheck and coffee break guarantees for some blue collar working man or woman. Unions should be destroyed if they create a base for a noncompeting market for our industries and manufacturing. A $20.00 an hour job is better than no job and I think about 7 or 8 million Americans would agree right about now.

    September 30, 2010 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Danny Cali

    Oh........yeh, just same old song same as last 8 years when your GOP was President and control the congress, let me just shut up and do your home work first.

    September 30, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Rick in AZ

    If the Republicans win both Houses of Congress in November they will show why we are in a recession and have nothing to bring us out of it. It will be the demise of the Republican party. It's too bad America will go through 2 years of hell first.

    September 30, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Dina

    I've KNOWN some of the people who make over 250k. They don't put it back into the economy. They don't HIRE people. They take trips around the world, they buy another house in France, they create trusts for their kids and they put their kids through Harvard so their kids can automatically be the NEXT 250k earners. Trickle down was a lie under Reagan, it's a lie now.

    September 30, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  25. anagram_kid

    Dear 34 Days until Socialism dies in the United States,
    I take it in 34 days you will no longer be driving on any highways or state/city/county maintained roads. You won’t depend on the military or police to protect you. If your house catches on fire I hope you have a nice neighbor with a long hose. Oh and better grow all of your own food and make your own medications so you know they are safe as the FDA will no longer be checking for those pesky microbes and chemicals that might kill you. Good luck living in a state of nature.

    September 30, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |