House Speaker John Boehner said he tries to avoid personal attacks on President Obama—and then proceeded to attack the president, saying on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday that, “He’s diminishing the presidency by picking fake fights, going after straw men every day.”
Boehner listed the ways Obama is “diminishing” the presidency. “The Buffet Rule, even the president admitted it was a gimmick. …Manipulation in the oil markets without one shred of evidence. Then they pick this student loan fight where there is no fight,” he said.
Republicans are still smarting from the abrupt about-face they needed to make last week when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said student loan interest rates should be fixed. Without congressional action by June 30, the current 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans will double. Republicans had not shown any interest in passing legislation to hold the interest rate at 3.4 percent until Romney made the comment.
Despite tension between the White House and Congress during last year’s battle over the debt ceiling, Boehner said, “The president and I have a very good relationship.”
CNN host Candy Crowley also asked Boehner a question that resonates with many Washington insiders: How many days does Boehner wonder whether he really wanted the top House job? “A lot,” Boehner joked, with his characteristic affability.
Boehner has had so many difficulties herding his own caucus that it has become a joke. Even comedian Jimmy Kimmel brought it up at Saturday’s White House Correspondents Association dinner, saying that the “feud” between Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., fascinates him. “They couldn't agree on the wording of the ransom note,” Kimmel said of the internal GOP discussions during the debt ceiling showdown last year.
In an odd exchange with Crowley, who asked about the impact of Mitt Romney’s wealth on the race, Boehner also touched on class warfare and the presidential election. “The American people don’t want to vote for a loser,” he said. “They don’t want to vote for someone who’s not successful.”
Boehner also mentioned on Sunday one thing that he is proud of: eliminating earmarks. But he also said it has made his job harder, because there is “no grease” with which to coax lawmakers to vote his way.
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