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Boehner: Obama Should Engage on Debt

Bill Clark/Roll Call

But he did say he agrees with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that significant reforms to Medicare must be part of a final deal, noting that the Biden negotiations have also included some discussions related to this. House Republicans have also repeatedly said they will not entertain tax increases as part of a compromise.

But Boehner refused to provide specifics: "Why would I want to put a straight jacket on it?"

In a wide-ranging interview, the Speaker also addressed the economy, House Republicans' recent loss in the New York special election and the decision to delay a resolution that would bring an end to the U.S.-supported NATO military actions in Libya.

On the economy, Boehner offered a bleak outlook.
"It was improving. I have concerns, especially looking at this morning's new job numbers. I have concerns. I'm concerned because of high gas prices, high food prices. ... And as a result we're going to see some growth over the balance of this year, I think, but not the kind of growth we need," Boehner said.

Boehner acknowledged cutting spending alone will not kick-start the economy.

"I understand that we are not going to solve America's problems by cutting spending alone. You have to have real economic growth. We've tried to outline over the course of the year those things that get in the way of economic growth," Boehner added.

On Libya, Boehner said he believes the administration has remained within the letter of the law of the War Powers Act, but just barely.

When asked whether the administration had violated the War Powers Act, Boehner said, "Technically, no. ... Legally, they've met the requirements of the War Powers Act."

As for the recent electoral loss in a Republican-leaning district in New York, Boehner laid out three problems he saw that doomed the GOP candidate.

"One is that our candidate allowed her opponents to define her before she defined herself. Secondly, you had a third-party candidate who was well-known, who spent nearly $3 million attacking our candidate. And then frankly, the third part and in third place, would be the issue of Medicare. Which I thought was handled poorly by the candidate," Boehner said.

He declined to comment on the efforts of the National Republican Congressional Committee to prop up their candidate Republican Jane Corwin.

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