Boehner: the president lacks 'guts' and 'courage'
February 12th, 2013
11:58 AM ET
1 year ago

Boehner: the president lacks 'guts' and 'courage'

Washington (CNN) – In personal and biting terms, House Speaker John Boehner argued that President Obama's failure to find agreement with Republicans is a result of his lack of
"courage" and "guts" to do what it takes.

"To do the kind of heavy lifting that needs to be done, I don't think he's got the guts to go do it," Boehner told a group of television reporters and anchors in a breakfast ahead of the president's State of the Union address.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at CNN.com or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at cnn.com/conversation.

He even doubled down on that accusation, when pressed.

"He doesn't have the courage to take on the liberal side of his own party. I'm sorry but it's just clear as a bell to me," said Boehner.

Boehner repeatedly talked about the president's "liberal" agenda he laid out in his inaugural address, suggesting it is a signal that the president's focus for the next two years will not be reaching across the aisle, but helping Democrats retake control of the House.

"I think he'd love to have Nancy Pelosi as speaker and Harry Reid as majority leader for his last two years in office. Go back to the inaugural address. He knows that all of that liberal agenda he laid out, he knows none of that is going to happen as long as we have a majority in the House," said Boehner.

IMMIGRATION: "How about a little foreplay?"

The speaker offered mostly pessimism about striking any kind of compromise, whether on tax reform or the debt and deficit issue that tends to force the White House and Congress into crisis mode every few months. But he did sound optimistic about ongoing bipartisan immigration reform talks in both chambers.

He said he is reluctant to dive into specifics about the divisive issue for fear of messing things up.

In fact, when asked about whether he would support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, Boehner responded with straight forward and saltiness he is often known for.

"Woah, woah slow down. How about a little foreplay," said a smiling Boehner, prompting some surprised and nervous laughter from reporters, and some red faces among Boehner aides.

Just like on economic issues, Boehner questioned the president's seriousness about getting something done on immigration.

"These bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate are the best shot we have at dealing with a big problem the thing I'm most concerned about is the president getting in the way. Sometimes I think he'd rather have an issue than have a solution," said Boehner.

SEQUESTER

Though Speaker Boehner said he certainly doesn't want the sequester – nearly $100 billion in deep cuts across the government to kick in on March 1, he also dug in deeply on the way around it: spending cuts and not new revenue, as Democrats are demanding.

"The president has gotten his revenue," was a line Boehner used nearly half a dozen times when talking about the sequester.

He also repeatedly threw the ball in Democrats court to find a way out of what he called "the president's sequester," arguing the House voted last year on a bill to replace the mandatory spending cuts, which were designed to go deep enough and cause enough pain for force Congress to act on broad deficit reduction.

When asked whether the cuts will kick in, Boehner responded "nobody knows."

Boehner: "I've gotten burned"

Speaker Boehner reiterated his vow to no longer try to negotiate wide ranging deals with the president, and instead work through "regular order" – let each body works its will, find compromise, and then send a bill to the president.

"I've tried repeatedly to come to agreement with the president. Every time I've gotten burned," said Boehner.

Later, Boehner said "I've tried over the last two years non stop working with the president, working with the president, never got there."

Boehner's hold on his speakership

Though Boehner had a rough ride, especially at the end of 2012, he said "I certainly plan to be here for a while."

"I have a job to do and I intend on doing it. I have no plans to leave. Period."


Filed under: Debt • Deficit • House • Immigration • John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (407 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "President Obama signed the Sequester into law because he could not negotiate in good faith with the duly elected House of Representatives. "

    OH STFU. The House GOP/Teatrolls rabidly supported the sequester when it was being voted on and you can go back and look at the articles and quotes and public announcements that clearly indicated that they loved the idea AND thought they could turn it to their advantage. The "everything is opposite of that" narrative they're trying to spin right now is, in fact, the GOP/Teatrolls trying to use the sequester to their advantage while disowning their very very public and undeniable co-ownership of it.

    February 12, 2013 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  2. Phil Muse

    How does Boehner know so much about "foreplay" (or the next step beyond that)? It's hard to imagine a guy who looks like Dracula with an orange makeup job being much of a Casanova.

    February 12, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. sdowst

    The "stupid" party is at it again, with their whining and crying.

    February 12, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    Speaker Boehner needs to show some courage and guts by standing up to Tea Party extremists in his caucus and push for a compromise.

    February 12, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Boehner added, "We need firm leadership and stiff resolve, just the way you like it."

    Basically, under Republican leadership, everyone's F%cked."

    Except, between his lifelong boozing and Korsaoff's Syndrome meds have given poor little Johnny an epic case of ED. It's fitting, of course, since their ideology is also just a flaccid piece of non-functioning meat that they like waving in peoples' faces.

    February 12, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. FFC

    THis coming form a grown man whoo cries ever time he speaks? So who is gutless?

    February 12, 2013 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. dave

    what is your problem big john? do you want the president to do your job in the house for you? you in fact have no courage or guts and you also have a real part time work ethic. your the biggest looser that has ever had that job. grow some big john and start doing something besides crying! what a joke you really are!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 12, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. jimbo

    Just who has no guts? Boener can't even stand up to the people that bought him!

    February 12, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. dave

    wgat a big cry baby you are john!

    February 12, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  10. Ancient Texan

    My Congressman is doing exactly what I and the fellow voters from our district told him we wanted; to stop the uncontrolled spending by the incompetent clueless administration. The economy will never recover until the deficit spending and unraveling of our credit rating stops.

    February 12, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Coffeecoolers

    ..."He doesn't have the courage to take on the liberal side of his own party. I'm sorry but it's just clear as a bell to me," said Boehner...

    AHHH STFU!

    February 12, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. CryBabies

    @ Thinkagain or for once (please)..Lets get real here, sure we had a couple unfunded wars but don't forget the housing crisis was a major reason for the great recession. And who were those people working hand in hand with Fannie and Freddie? Could it be?????...Barney Frank. Chris Dodd, Maxine Waters! Wonderful spokespeople for the liberal agenda of making sure EVERYBODY could get a house regardless of the fact that too many could not afford a house. Don't think, which is no problem for you, that much of this mess can be put on the shoulders of liberals because of their misguided attempt to equal the playing field. Now, take a long overdue nap.

    February 12, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Carol

    Does Boehner expect us to believe that he, Lindsay Graham, and Mitch McConnell are not responsible for holding our country hostage for the last four years???? They attack Obama for the very things they are doing!

    February 12, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. bcjonah

    Bonner sure does have skin damage... he must be very "Stupid"... oh right.... makes sense now,...

    February 12, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  15. rob

    Now now SNIFFY, don't let your emotions get the best of you. I agree most of the House was for it, but the President does not believe that he needs to work with the House of Representatives. He and the Dems believe we don't have a spending problem, Pelosi thinks we have a "deficit problem" ??? you and everybody here should know that if the Dems get their way, the only way to solve the "Deficit problem" IS TO TAX THE HELL OUT OF EVERYONE.

    Get ready for Carbon taxes and the Value added tax that will cost us dearly.

    February 12, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  16. Larry L

    @Wilson

    I see the looters, moochers, gullible and evil, are out in full force today.
    ========================
    Your subscription to "Jihad Watch" not come through lately? I've been looking for more ridiculous conspiracies about the Texas school curriculum and their teaching kids that the Boston Tea Party was an act of terror. I know you've repeated it a couple of times but I feel the need to mention – it's completely untrue. You're a "birther" aren't you?

    February 12, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "you and everybody here should know that if the Dems get their way, the only way to solve the "Deficit problem" IS TO TAX THE HELL OUT OF EVERYONE. "

    Given that I'm more informed and better educated than you, I actually don't need to "know" that, because it's untrue and nothing more than batcrap nonsense fed into your brain by Faux News and useful idiot mousetraps like Red State and Limbaugh's and Beck's shows.

    February 12, 2013 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. Larry L

    @Ancient Texan

    My Congressman is doing exactly what I and the fellow voters from our district told him we wanted; to stop the uncontrolled spending by the incompetent clueless administration. The economy will never recover until the deficit spending and unraveling of our credit rating stops.
    ===========================
    You're Congressman is from Texas and therefore one of those right-wing morons who caused the lowering of our credit rating with hostage-taking. The economy is recovering and all economist agree those sort of tactics will send us back into recession and maybe a true depression. If the ultra-right gets it's way and collapses our federal government – will you miss you Social Security check? Do you know your medical insurance cost without Medicare? Better find out..

    February 12, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. Drew

    Correct me if I'm wrong but his own party can't agree on anything. They filibustered themselves for cryin out loud. Some are for the sequester some are not. Some immigration reform others no. Talk about failed leadership. People in his own party voted for Alan west for SOTH. A 1 term tea party member. The president is done with you. He's not gonna waste the next 4 years tryin to work with you cause he doesn't have to. He knows the majority of the country is on his side. Now lets see those years.

    February 12, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  20. Grampa

    Boehner has about as much credibility as a cheer leader for the Tea Party. I guess he and his ilk will just keep fiddling while the GOP burns. Ah well, good riddance.

    February 12, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  21. AlexK

    Obviously, Obama needs to watch House of Cards.

    February 12, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  22. norma jean

    President Obama has shown a great amount of courage just facing a party of misfits that have threatened very publicly from the start... to limit his term of office and to refuse to work with him on anything he attempts to do... We haven't seen him cry in front of the cameras when things didn't go his way..... The Republicans have worked very hard to keep this man from accomplishing anything and they have failed miserably......True he hasn't been able to do a lot of things he has tried but we are still better off than we were when we originally faced the mess that the Bush administration left .... .. what world do complaining people live in???.... I know...........you get your info from: "Faux" news!!!!!

    February 12, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. MK

    "none of that is going to happen as long as we have a majority in the House," said Boehner. Yeah, that sounds like compromise and cooperation, much less courage and guts to stand for what is right and fair.

    February 12, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  24. snoozie

    LOL, from the man who cannot get his House members lined up to save his life. And, Boehner, you had your chances, plenty of them, back in the day when the pres would have done A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G to get a republican vote, but you just couldn't take "yes" for an answer. So, you can blame your own self for the situation you are in. It is certainly not Obama's lack of compromise that got you here. You are not nicknamed "the party of no" just for laughs.

    February 12, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. joe2sixpacks

    How and why did Boehner get burned? He negotiated without having control of the votes. All of what is going on is interesting in context of Republicans meeting the evening before President's first inauguration and plotting to oppose his agenda. The country wants you to work together and compromise. Wake up John and get contol of yourself and your colleagues.

    February 12, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
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