Boehner v Obama: A Preview of 2011?

With control of the House of Representatives up for grabs in the midterms, Tuesday morning brought a speech at the City Club of Cleveland, Ohio, where House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, openly discussed being the next Speaker as he called for President Obama to fire Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council director Larry Summers.

Boehner said, according to prepared remarks , that “if I were fortunate enough to be Speaker of the House, I would run the House differently. And I don’t just mean differently than the way Democrats are running it now. I mean differently than it’s been run in the past under Democrats or Republicans. That means challenging the old ways in Washington, getting to the bottom of what drives people crazy, and then fixing it once and for all.”

Mr. Boehner discussed spending reductions as w ay he would break from the past, but the White House sought to portray him as poster boy for the Bush era.

In a pre-emptive blog post , White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer hammered Boehner for preaching “support for the same old failed economic policies that steered our economy into the ditch that we’re just now beginning to climb out of. We cannot afford a return to the past. These failed economic policies haven’t changed, and they won’t bring the change American families need.”

Pfeiffer wrote that “families in Ohio and across the country don’t need to wait until the speech to learn about these economic policies because they’ve been living with the impact of many of these same old policies for years. Today, Ohioans will hear an argument for a return to the economic policies that turned a surplus into record deficits and helped create the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.”

In a poll this month by AP/GfK, 56 percent of Americans disapproved of the president’s handling of the economy. However the Republicans have not turned that opening to their clear advantage. The same poll showed the American people evenly divided on which political party they trust more to handle the economy, the Democrats or the Republicans, 45 percent to 43 percent.

The House Minority Leader noted that the president’s “budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too. President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council. Now, this is no substitute for a referendum on the president’s job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies.”

“We’ve tried 19 months of government-as-community organizer,” said the Republican. “It hasn’t worked. Our fresh start needs to begin now."

Among other challenges he issued the president, Boehner said “President Obama should announce he will not carry out his plan to impose job-killing tax hikes on families and small businesses.” Noting that the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will expire at the end of the year, Mr. Boehner called for all of them to be renewed – though he did not offer a plan to pay for the $3.7 trillion in tax reductions.

“President Obama has stated he wants to stop some tax hikes, and not others, once again putting the government in the position of picking winners and losers and pitting taxpayer against taxpayer,” Boehner said. “According to an analysis by the non-partisan Joint Tax Committee, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, half of small business income in America – half – would face higher taxes under the president’s plan.”

Pfeiffer said that the “Bush high income tax cuts provide an average of $100,000 to households making more than $1 million per year.”

The Cook Political Report is predicting a Republican net gain of between 35 and 45 seats in November. A net gain of 39 seats by Republicans would mean Boehner gets the Speaker's gavel.

- Jake Tapper

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