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Speaker John Boehner escalates clash with conservative critics of budget deal

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GOP House Speaker John Boehner apparently isn’t finished telling conservative critics of the new budget compromise what he thinks of their opinion.

For the second time in two days, Mr. Boehner fired back Thursday at the vocal opponents of the deal, saying that the tea party and conservative advocacy groups that have come out against the proposal lack any credibility. The agreement that Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, released this week has highlighted significant fissures within the GOP that have caused Mr. Boehner a series of headaches over the years, and the Ohio Republican is signaling that he is fed up.

“I think they’re misleading their followers,” Mr. Boehner said. “I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be. And frankly, I just think that they’ve lost all credibility.”

The proposal restores $63 billion of the previously agreed to “sequester” cuts to defense and non-defense programs that were included in the 2011 Budget Control Act in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. It reduces the deficit by $23 billion over ten years without raising taxes.

The Club for Growth, Heritage Action and other groups have panned the deal, taking particular aim at the decision to roll back some of the “sequester” cuts already in law in exchange for promises of deficit reduction that they do not believe will ever materialize. They also criticize the increased airline fees as a disguised tax increase.

Mr. Boehner said that some of the critics lambasted the bill before they knew what was even in it.

“When the criticism was coming, frankly, I thought it was my job and my obligation to stand up for conservatives here in the Congress who want more deficit reduction, stand up for the work that Chairman Ryan did,” Mr. Boehner said. “He did work on behalf of the American people. Yeah, it is not everything we wanted, but our job is to find enough common ground to move the ball down the field on the behalf of the American people who sent us here to do their work.”

“The budget bill gives us more deficit reduction than what we have under the Budget Control Act,” Mr. Boehner said. “I came here to cut the size of government, that is exactly what this bill does, and why conservatives wouldn’t vote for this or criticize the bill is beyond any recognition that I could come up with.”

Asked if he is asking these conservative groups to stand down, Mr. Boehner said bluntly, “I don’t care what they do.”

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