June 30th, 2010
12:09 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama weighs in on Boehner and Barton controversies

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/30/art.getty.obama.3.4.jpg caption="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. ETM

    Good for you, Mr. President. During these difficult times, the Republicans have done nothing but obstruct and complain. They care nothing about working-class America and worry only about BIG BUSINESS.
    The Democrats are far from perfect but at least there is balance and sanity in their party. The Republicans have become a bunch of nuts.

    June 30, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Orangeman and Oilman are sell-outs and only care about working on their tans and hooking-up their Big $ golfing pals with stupid apologies or
    appointing Federal Judges that sell all their Oil stock before ruling in favor of their cronies.

    June 30, 2010 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Hugo

    Government regulators failing to do their jobs is what has caused the problem.
    Government lawyers response to the failures of their system is to legislate more regulatory law, which they alone decide when to enforce.
    Government failure is due to the corruption within that very government controlled by party agenda. They count on the sheep to take the bait to expand their power base, before you know it they'll be taking 75% of your paycheck, if you can find a job that is!

    Baaaa Baaaaa Baaaaaraaaaaaccccckkkk!

    June 30, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  4. Marcus

    Mr. President.
    They are so out of touch with reality that they might even believe that you are starting to wish to wear a crown after they hear you criticize them...

    June 30, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. Cindy Nesmith

    We already see where the spend/spend/spend theories of the Obama administration is leading our country – into collapse. These are lies coming from Obama and his cronies. It was the government policies under Clinton and continued with Bush that led to the massive financial/housing problems in this country where Clinton said everyone in the US should have a home even if they could not afford to pay for it; now the taxpayers are paying for those homes where the buyers never should have been given the credit. Bush attempted to correct this, but he had a democrap congress who would not cooperate on anything, holding up any good legislation until a democrat was elected as pres. And look what we got for a pres!! A know-nothing, do-nothing lawyer-talking speechifier.

    June 30, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Stymie

    Dems have been in control of house and senate since 2007, and have controlled everything for the last year and a half. Trillions in debt, unemployment at 10%. Joe 'bite-me' Biden said the 8 million jobs lost will never come back. Blame Bush all you want, uhbama–this is your mess caused by your party. I will take a Bush recession over an uhbama recovery any day.

    June 30, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. phoenix86

    The president is dillusional. His policies have been tried and have failed in the past in the US and countless other countries. You cannot tax and spend your way to prosperity. Big government is not the answer. The liberal agenda punishes innovation and prosperity.

    If Obama had even a remote understanding of economics and even a slight respect for the US Constitution, he would be on a different track and not have to spend his summer spinning a failing policy into something it is not.

    June 30, 2010 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. gt

    the 64 thousand dollar question in november is .... are you better off now ..... dont know many who can yes to the obama agenda....

    June 30, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |

    The GOP has been stating their position very clearly of late although not that they wanted to do so. But it's clear where they stand, on the side of big oil, big banks and lets not forget big insurance companies. These industries have bought and paid for the GOP for many many years. It's just now become clear how many and how influence they have over these paid for politicians like Rep. Boner and Barton. They will do and say anything to help their masters and will nothing to help the American people. If it's good for America, the GOP is against it.

    Vote NO in NOvember to the party of NO.

    June 30, 2010 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. The Real Me

    Does he every sit at his desk? I guess only if there is a camera there. I wish I could travel like a Rock Star with unlimited resources, like the president does.

    June 30, 2010 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  11. Colorado Liberal

    Don't get discouraged, Mr. President.

    We are still recovering from the eight-year tribulation of George Bush and Dick Cheney–5 trillion dollars added to the debt and nothing to show for it, two mismanaged wars, deregulation...and the Republicans still appear to have no decent or useful ideas.

    GOP = Party of NO.

    June 30, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. Rick McDaniel

    How do you get a "stronger future" out of a $13 trillion deficit???????

    June 30, 2010 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I can't wait for Bonehead Boehner to get the boot. Maybe then he'll realize what it feels like to be unemployed.

    June 30, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but...

    Hmmm... What to do about the deficit? It's starting already. The capitalist-controlled media is already pushing the "undeserving poor" meme. My Fox watching neighbor is all about "welfare mothers" this week. I asked him what he knows about the Welfare Reform Act of '97 and he just kind of stared at me. Be that as it may, the Real Americans are being conditioned, as we blog, to be against those socialist entitlements. By about next January, after the dust from midterm elections has settled and we've all had a nice but frugal "Holiday Season", you will start hearing the phrase "austerity measures" more and more in the media. And the Real Americans will be foaming at the mouth in favor of legislation that, once again, strips away their future security and enriches the military-industrial complex. But what do I know? Have a nice day!

    June 30, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  15. doug

    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.

    If we could have reformed fannie and freddie without just calling anyone who seen the problem beforehand a racist, we would have not had this crash.

    Then again it would be great if libs would live within their means and not try to take from those who work harder than they do. However, they just don't have the decency and integrity that their conservative neighbors do.

    Americans will look to undo the failed Democrat policies that made this mess, and the Democrats will look to rig the election results as they did in getting Franken-Stein elected, and use their goons to intimidate voters as they did in Philadelphia in 2008.

    June 30, 2010 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  16. Riley

    Obama, stop trying to distract from your deplorable record. GET TO WORK!

    Obama is CLUELESS!

    June 30, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. Angie

    We already know what a Republican President, and what a Republican controlled Congress, and what a Republican controlled Senate would do about the Gulf Oil Gusher.
    Because in 2005 Republican president Bush, Republican controlled Congress, Republican controlled Senate named BP blameless for the Safety Hazard violations that caused the BP Texas City Oil Refinery explosion.
    In other words, if we had a Republican President during this Gulf oil disaster, he would do the same thing Republicans did before in that 2005 explosion of the BP Texas City Oil Refinery, and that is absolutely NOTHING for the Gulf states at all!

    June 30, 2010 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  18. gt

    how about answering these questions. mr presidant .. why are we in afganistan loosing troops,? why are our taxes going up ?.. why is the oil spill a disaster?, why are we not creating jobs..? dont worry about anyone else solve these problems and you will be fine...not going to happen...

    June 30, 2010 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  19. Bobbie in Maryland

    Hang in tere for & with the American people, Mr. President.
    Check out thr facts,folks...the stimulus bikll & the other unpopular economic initiatives by this President have kept us ALL out of a RECESSION!!

    June 30, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. Angie

    As far as the Economy is concern, we already know what Republicans did in helping Wall Street, Banks, financial corporations cause the Economic crisis and ripping off America and the American Tax payers. Remember?

    June 30, 2010 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. AnettaP21

    What I find amazing, is that the members of BOTH parties forget they are as culpable as the the very entities they now castigate or seek to cover. Laws that make no sense, laws that are largely unenforced, no oversight by the committtee's or departments charged with that responsibility, the appearance of vast corruption and a government that seems more and more willing to protect itself and its' political membership than fulfill it's Constitutional duties. All three branches of government should sit up and take notice, that the American people want CHANGE; level the playing field in the economic sector so that it can return to prosperity and create the jobs THEY PROMISED, write laws that make sense and ENFORCE THEM, take a stand against corruption and criminal acts (even if they are in house), stop treating the people as a bunch of moronic sheep ready and willing to follow the idiocy and STOP take our Country in the WRONG DIRECTION.

    June 30, 2010 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    He's doing everything humanly possible to turn this mess around and encoutnering only RIDICULOUS obstruction from the GObP for the sake of obstructing and sinking HIM personally with NO regard whatsoever to what they are doing to our country.

    I therefore repeat, I STAND WITH MY PRESIDENT, as do millions upon millions of SANE AND RATIONAL AMERICANS and CITIZENS OF THE WIORLD>

    June 30, 2010 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  23. snow

    Nothing has failed so totally than this administration with its demorat congress. Look up failure in the dictionary and you will probably find a picture of nobummer and the demorat congress.

    June 30, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  24. madrosa

    I'm completely entertained by the GOP supporters. Their posts are are more entertaining than the article itself! The way I look at the financial reform is this... I compare it to what's going on in the gulf. Lack of regulation on the oil industry allowed them to cut corners and produce one of the worst environmental disasters in history. Similarly, lack of regulation on our financial institutions led to one of the worst economic disasters since the great depression. Why does the GOP insist that decreased regulation is a good thing? An educated man/woman would learn from history. Please GOP supporters, continue with your posts, they're quite entertaining!

    June 30, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  25. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    I'm tired of seeing Republicans who are no more than big CEOs show up in Washington in their $1000 suits, shoes, ties, suntans and manicured nails to vote NO, collect a paycheck, leave to wine and dine themselves while discussing what they will vote NO on again. I don't know of any other way to describe what Republicans do other than vote NO, they have taken no responsibility for helping the American people, yet they were in office over the past 8 years or more.

    June 30, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
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