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Boehner ready to take on position of speaker

Vows to focus on spending, cuts

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

With his party poised to take over the chamber after Tuesday's elections, House Minority Leader John A. Boehner has promised a new approach to governing that would focus on spending and program cuts, a rejection of earmarks and more openness in how laws are passed.

The Ohio lawmaker, in line to ascend to speaker if Republicans on Tuesday pick up the 39 seats they need to win the House, has outlined a series of specific steps for reshaping the chamber after four years of Democratic rule under Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

"While the culture of spending stems largely from a lack of political will in both parties to say 'no,' it is also the consequence of what I believe to be a structural problem,' " said Mr. Boehner in a major Washington speech in September. "The inertia in Washington is currently to spend - and spend - and spend."

Mr. Boehner increasingly has attacked President Obama and Democratic leaders for their "tax and spend" ways while pressing his case that Republicans have earned another shot at running Congress. His aggressive use of his bully pulpit during the campaign has been perceived by many as a dress rehearsal for his inevitable rise to speaker of the House.

"In the final days of the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama promised to 'change this country and change the world,' " said Mr. Boehner in a national radio address Saturday. "I dont know about the world, but here at home, Americans havent experienced the change President Obama promised."

"It starts with cutting spending instead of increasing it; making government smaller and more accountable; and helping small businesses get back to creating jobs again."

Mr. Boehner and House GOP leaders have pledged to undo many of administration's legislative victories, including repeal the new health care law (or at least "starving" it to death by denying it funding), cutting spending back to levels before the president took office and preserving all of the expiring tax cuts first passed under President George W. Bush.

The Ohio Republican has reserved particular vitriol for the administration's $814 billion economic stimulus plan, calling for the cancelation of unspent funding in the program.

He has proposed rewriting the 1974 Budget Act, which governs how Congress spends money, and said he will push for what he calls "cut-as-you-go" to force lawmakers not to expand government.

Mr. Boehner, who never has sponsored an earmark in his congressional career, earlier this year convinced his fellow House Republicans to refrain from inserting them into legislation until end of the year. But pet projects remain popular with senior lawmakers of both parties, so it's uncertain if he can shepherd through a permanent ban.

The minority leader remains a figure of suspicion for many in the anti-spending "tea party" movement, but he insists GOP congressional leaders have learned from the mistakes that led to the turnover of the chamber as a result of the 2006 midterm elections.

During a speech in Cleveland in late August, the minority leader said it was "time to put grown-ups in charge" and called on Mr. Obama to fire his economic advisers. He used the phrase "job-killing" a dozen times to describe the administration's policies.

Mr. Boehner's repeated attacks appear to have gotten under the skin of the administration. During a trip to Ohio days after the minority leader's Cleveland visit, the president singled out the lawmaker, calling his comments "bad for America."

Mr. Boehner, 60, who was first elected to Congress in 1990, is no stranger to political battles inside and outside his party. Soon after he arrived in Washington, he became involved with the "Group of Seven" House Republicans who took on the establishment of both parties by condemning scandals in the House bank, post office and restaurant.

A decade later, he became chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, working with Democrats to help draft and pass the No Child Left Behind Act, a major legislative measure that requires states to develop assessments in basic skills to be given to students in certain grades.

Mr. Boehner beat out Missouri Rep. Roy Blunt for House majority leader in early 2006, a post he held until Democrats took control of the chamber 11 months later. He has served as House GOP minority leader since.

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