By Christi Parsons, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — The country isn’t facing an immediate debt crisis, House Speaker John Boehner(R-Ohio) said Sunday, but he argued that Congress and the president must reform entitlements to avert one that lies dead ahead.
“We all know that we have one looming,” Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week”. “And we have one looming because we have entitlement programs that are not sustainable in their current form. They’re going to go bankrupt.”
Boehner expressed agreement with Obama’s statement in an ABC interview the other day that the debt doesn’t present “an immediate crisis.”
But Boehner took issue with Obama’s assertion that it doesn’t make sense to “chase a balanced budget just for the sake of balance.”
The new spending plan from House Republicans would balance the budget in 10 years, a priority Boehner said this morning is important to the economy.
“Balancing the budget will, in fact, help our economy,” Boehner said. “It’ll help create jobs in our country, get our economy going again, and put more people back to work.”
“The fact that the government continues to spend more than a trillion dollars every year that it doesn’t have scares investors, scares businesspeople, makes them less willing to hire people,” he said.
In a wide-ranging interview, Boehner said the House would “review” any gun control measure that came out of the Senate. He restated his opposition to gay marriage, and said that, unlike his fellow Ohio Republican, Sen. Rob Portman, he can’t imagine a situation in which he would change his mind. Portman said this week that his views had evolved since he found out his son is gay.
Dwelling on budget issues, Boehner said he has a good relationship with Obama and trusts him, and that a lack of good relations is not the problem getting in the way of a sweeping deficit-reduction plan.
The challenge is in overcoming big differences, he said.
“When you get down to bottom line,” he said, “if the president believes that we have to have more taxes from the American people, we’re not going to get very far.”
“Washington has responsibility, to our seniors and our near seniors, that we firm up these programs so that they’re there for the long term,” Boehner said.
“Because if we don’t do it, not only will they not get benefits, we will have a debt crisis right around the corner. We have time to solve our problems. But we need to do it now.”