Updated: 12:04 p.m.
House Republicans were encouraged by GOP leaders Wednesday to tie the sluggish economy to the lack of a budget in Congress.
The decision by Democratic leaders “to punt on a budget means a missed opportunity to create jobs and to begin to address the massive debt we’re piling on our children,” Boehner told members during a closed-door meeting of the conference, according to GOP sources in the room. “It is a failure of leadership.”
Boehner dismissed the notion that budgets were too “inside baseball” for members to discuss with their constituents, the sources said, and told members that Democratic leaders were wrong to advise their members not to worry about the issue.
Boehner released new data produced by Republican pollster David Winston. The survey of 1,000 registered voters just before the Memorial Day recess showed that 62 percent believed that by not passing a budget, Congress missed an opportunity to “rein in spending.”
Boehner said Republicans should capitalize on the public’s aversion to government spending and use the upcoming debate over appropriations bills to highlight their willingness to save federal dollars by paring down unnecessary programs.
Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters at a press conference following the closed-door meeting that Republicans would use their votes against spending to prove they are committed to fiscal responsibility.
“We are amassing a record of votes of members who believe we should stop spending and stop it now and then there are those members who disagree and want to continue to spend money we don’t have,” he said.
Boehner said the failure of Democrats to produce a budget reflected poorly on the White House’s ability to lead.
“Look, we’re broke, we are $13 trillion in debt,” Boehner told reporters.
“I’m wondering, why isn’t the president looking for someone’s ass to kick’ on this subject?” Boehner said, referring to President Barack Obama’s remarks during a recent interview with NBC about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said Republicans have little ground to stand on when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
“We will not be taking advice from Congressional Republicans who drove our economy into the ditch and doubled our national debt,” Elshami said. “We will be dealing with this issue and you will see spending reductions from Democrats, unlike the irresponsible and out-of-control spending under Congressional Republicans and President Bush.”