House Republican leader John Boehner on Thursday said America needs to “liberate the economy from the shackles of Washington” and called for changes in the tax code, entitlement reform, and less government regulation.
Speaker Boehner said the key to jump-starting the economy is to get government out of the way and remove barriers to private-sector job growth.
Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner urged the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction — the so-called “super committee” charged with proposing big deficit cuts by November — to pursue tax reform by developing “principles” for closing loopholes and cutting individual and corporate tax rates, and for overhauling Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
He also said tax increases are “off the table” because they would “destroy jobs.”
The speech effectively marked the GOP’s response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress last week, and his $447 billion stimulus proposal that includes $194 billion in new spending to be paid for with tax hikes opposed by Republicans.
Boehner ruled out a government shutdown or debt default on his watch, called for a highway bill to be combined with U.S. energy exploration, and warned of a spiral of economic and social decline he said is setting in.
“Here in Washington there’s a fundamental misunderstanding of the economy, and it’s led to an awful lot of bad decisions,” the Ohio legislator said.
“The reality is that employers will hire if they have the right incentives. But the incentives have to outweigh the costs.
“Private sector job creators of all sizes have been pummeled by decisions made right here in Washington. They’ve been slammed by uncertainty over the constant threat of new taxes, out-of-control spending, and unnecessary regulation.
“Job creators in America basically are on strike.
“My worry is that most of the talk in Washington is about more of the same — more initiatives that seem to have more to do with the next election than the next generation.
“Let's be honest with ourselves. The president's proposals are a poor substitute for the pro-growth policies that are needed to remove barriers to job creation in America.
“What we need to do is liberate the economy from the shackles of Washington, and let our economy grow.
Boehner said the three main threats to the economy are excessive government regulation, a tax code that discourages investment and rewards special interests, and a “spending binge that created a massive debt crisis that poses a direct threat to our country’s ability to create jobs.”
He called for a “simpler, fairer tax code,” and closing loopholes because “it’s the right thing to do.”
Boehner expressed skepticism about, but did not rule out, the core of Obama's plan — an extension of a Social Security payroll tax cut — and said he was open to increased infrastructure spending, another element of the Obama bill. He said such spending should be linked to increased development of domestic energy resources.
He also criticized Democrats for “micromanaging” and “offering short term fixes,” which bring “confusion to business owners instead of clarity.”
But he called on members in both parties to end the “name-calling, the yelling and the questioning of others’ motives.”