Boehner not optimistic deal will be reached to avoid budget cuts

Published: Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 9:30 AM
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2013 @ 9:30 AM

Watch our exclusive interview

Watch our one-on-one interview with Speaker John Boehner online. We talked with him about several issues including the possibility of defense cuts that will impact Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and today’s State of the Union address by President Obama. Video is at DaytonDailyNews.com

House Speaker John Boehner is not optimistic Congress and the president will reach a deal to avert massive federal budget reductions as thousands of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base workers face potential furloughs if automatic spending cuts start March 1.

“I’m not the most optimistic guy when it comes to whether this will go into effect,” said Boehner, R-West Chester Twp. “But there’s no reason for this (sequester) to happen.”

Boehner toured Cincinnati State Technical and Community College in downtown Middletown on Monday, one day before President Barack Obama lays out his agenda for the beginning of his second term in a State of the Union address to Congress. You can watch the State of the Union live on WHIO-TV Channel 7 starting at 9 p.m. Also, you can listen live at NewstalkRadio WHIO 95.7 FM and AM 1290 and it will stream online live at www.newstalkradiowhio.com. Our political team will also have live updates on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics.

On Monday, the speaker met behind closed doors with business and economic leaders, toured classrooms and spoke to students on a return visit to his home 8th District, which includes Butler, Clark, Preble, Miami, Darke and part of Mercer counties.

Democrats and Republicans have blamed the each other for the inability to reach common ground to avert sequestration. Automatic spending cuts of more than $1 trillion over a decade to both defense and domestic spending programs would begin without a deal. Lawmakers postponed the reductions for two months Jan. 1 in a deal that raised taxes on the wealthy. Spending cuts could mean everything from a sharp decline in military readiness to fewer air traffic controllers and food inspectors on the job to thousands of fewer students enrolled in Headstart, an education program for pre-schoolers.

The talks in Washington are of high importance to the Miami Valley because up to 13,000 civilian workers at Wright-Patterson may face 22-day furloughs without a budget agreement in hand. Many other local workers including defense contractors will also be impacted.

“While it’s a little grim here in the short term if we’re able to come to some agreement, it’ll allow the Department of Defense to have a much clearer picture of what their funding levels are going to be over the long term,” Boehner said in an exclusive interview.

The key to averting the automatic cuts is for the president and Senate Democrats to offer an alternative after the Republican-controlled House twice passed sequestration replacement bills last year, Boehner said. Democrats have criticized the Republican proposal for favoring defense spending while cutting deeply into social support programs.

The speaker suggested the president provide a plan to cut $1.2 trillion worth of cuts from other mandatory spending programs to avoid sequestration.

“I don’t like the sequester, I don’t think anybody does,” Boehner said. “But we’ve got a serious spending problem and it’s time for us to deal with it honestly. …

“I’ve watched leaders for 22 years kick this can down the road, avoid these big decisions,” he said. “Now is the time to make the decision. The president last week was talking about moving the sequester out a couple of more months. Yeah, then what?”

White House spokesman Keith Maley deferred questions to a blog post Obama administration senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer posted Sunday.

Pfeiffer wrote assertions Obama hasn’t offered a solution is false. In 2011, the president proposed $4 trillion in deficit reduction over a decade with a combination of cutting spending, entitlement programs and asking the wealthy “to pay their fair share” to avoid the automatic cuts. Obama offered a plan to cut spending and raise revenues last month that remains on the table, Pfeiffer wrote.

“The president has already reduced the deficit by over $2.5 trillion, cutting spending by over $1.4 trillion. And he’s willing to do more,” Pfeiffer wrote. “And we just can’t cut our way to prosperity. …

“But we are not willing to accept the ‘my way or the highway’ approach by congressional Republicans that asks the middle class and seniors to bear all the burden while the very wealthiest individuals, big corporations and oil and gas companies continue to enjoy big tax loopholes that are unavailable to middle class Americans and small business,” he wrote.

Boehner, who will sit behind the president as he delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress tonight, said he expected the president to talk “an awful lot” about the economy.

“My expectations are pretty low,” Boehner said. “After I listened to the inaugural address, I suspect tomorrow is rather going to be a partisan speech.

“I would hope he would lay out a pathway for us to avoid the sequester,” he added. “What are the changes and reforms that he’d put in place so that we don’t have to put the American people through what’s going to be a pretty painful period.”

Boehner attributed the budget impasse to national and political gridlock.

“We’ve got a divided country, we’ve got a divided government,” he said. “You can blame a lot of different people. It’s not about blaming people it’s about, at this point, finding enough common ground to solve this problem.”

Senate Republicans head home still searching for health care deal

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 12:29 AM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 12:30 AM

As lawmakers trooped out of the U.S. Capitol on Thursday and headed home until early June, Senate Republicans told reporters they were making progress, but were still nowhere near finalizing a deal on a major overhaul of the Obama health law.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as top Republicans tried to project a feeling that the GOP is making some headway in making changes to a bill approved in the House earlier this month.

“I believe Senators across the ideological spectrum are proceeding in good faith,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“Leader McConnell is doing a great job right now, focusing on the priorities that we’ve all agreed to, that are broken under Obamacare,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who said he thought there would be legislative language put together in the near future by GOP Senators.

But one thing no one was talking about on the GOP side, was when a health care bill might get to the Senate floor for an actual debate, and vote.

“We’re a long ways from that,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND), “but you’ve got to start with something to begin with. And that’s what this is all about.”

But the schedule is already squeezing Republicans, as there are four work weeks in June, plus three in July – then Congress is scheduled to leave for a five week summer break that lasts until Labor Day.

Not only are there few work days, but Republicans still have to get the House bill past the scrutiny of the Senate Parliamentarian, and then make sure any changes also pass muster with strict Senate rules governing budget reconciliation, which prevents a bill from being subject to a 60 vote filibuster.

One item from the House bill that could be in trouble in the Senate, is the idea of allowing states to opt out of certain requirements from the Obama health law, like the list of “Essential Health Benefits” that must be covered by insurance.

How Republicans might broker some of the differences wasn’t clear as members headed for the airport, though individual Senators are clearly looking for a breakthrough.

“Can you talk to me in two weeks? We’re working on something,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) told reporters, refusing to give any hints of what he is trying to cobble together on coverage.

“No, cause I don’t know if it works. I’m running it by actuaries, I’m running it by people who really know their stuff,” Cassidy added.

And that’s where Republicans are right now – still searching for a deal, while the clock keeps ticking.

Federal appeals court keeps Trump travel and refugee order on hold

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 2:37 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 2:37 PM

In another legal setback for President Donald Trump, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals refused on Thursday to lift an injunction against his revised travel and refugee order, preventing the White House from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries, as this decision took another step on the way to a likely showdown on the matter at the U.S. Supreme Court.

As in earlier rulings, the judges cited the President’s own words calling for a “Muslim ban,” ruling that the order was basically an effort to target “Muslims for exclusion from the United States.”

“These statements, taken together, provide direct specific evidence” of what spurred the executive orders, the court’s majority wrote in a 202 page decision.

“President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States,” the opinion read.

Not only did the ruling quote Mr. Trump, but also some of his top aides and advisers, like White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and others.

The judges rejected an argument by the Trump Administration that the order was done in the name of national security, saying the record shows Mr. Trump belatedly consulted agencies that deal with that matter, and only after his first travel order had been derailed in the courts.

The President’s order would impact people coming into the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – Iraq had been on the original order, but was taken off when that first plan was revised.

The ruling was the first of two from federal appellate courts – the Ninth Circuit also must pass judgment on the plan.

“The Muslim ban continues to be 100% blocked from going into effect nationwide, by an overwhelming vote,” said lawyer Neal Katyal, who argued this same issue before the Ninth Circuit for the state of Hawaii.

Kasich wants ‘voice’ in 2020; tunes it up now with book, West Palm talk

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 2:15 PM


            Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Orlando for the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit in November 2015. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was the last Republican standing against Donald Trump in 2016 and refused to endorse him in the general election, says in a new book that it’s time for “thinking, feeling Americans to come together in support of the Trump administration.”

But Kasich — who will appear in West Palm Beach at a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches lunch on Friday to promote the book — also writes that Trump won’t get a “free pass.”

The book is titled Two Paths: America Divided or United, and Kasich spoke to The Palm Beach Post this week about it and his upcoming speech, as well as his 2016 presidential run and 2020 plans, such as they are.

“I have no clue what I’m doing in 2020,” said Kasich, who faces term limits as Ohio governor in January 2019. “I’m wondering what I’m going to be doing in the next 20 minutes. I don’t know. I really don’t. I’d like to have a voice, whether it’s through public office or whether it’s not. I think that’s going to be left to a higher power than me.”

Trump orders investigation of leaks related to Manchester terror attack

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 10:59 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

After an outcry from the British government, President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered an internal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, to find out who leaked information about the probe into this week’s terrorist attack in England, saying those responsible for the leaks should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“The alleged leaks coming out of government agencies are deeply troubling,” the President said in a statement issued in Belgium, his latest stop on a nine day overseas trip.

“These leaks have been going on for a long time and my Administration will get to the bottom of this. The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security,” Mr. Trump added.

Mr. Trump, who has voiced his frustration with intelligence leaks throughout his first four months in office, made clear he wants to find the source of the leak, as photos of evidence from the scene made their way on to the front page of the New York Times, angering British investigators.

“I am asking the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies to launch a complete review of this matter, and if appropriate, the culprit should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” the President said.

“There is no relationship we cherish more than the Special Relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom,” Mr. Trump added in his statement.

Earlier in the day, the President did not answer questions from reporters about the leak, which involved forensic evidence from the bombing scene.