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John Boehner Reaffirms Primacy of Spending Cuts

Speaker John Boehner this morning renewed his vow to connect another debt ceiling increase to cuts to federal spending.

During a speech at the Federal Policy Group’s 23rd annual policy meeting, the Ohio Republican said bluntly, “I’ve gotten a lot of criticism over the last couple of days because I’ve made it clear we should start dealing with our debt now.” Since Boehner articulated his position in a Tuesday speech at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, the reaction has ranged from incredulity from the administration and Congressional Democrats to nonplussed from many conservative Republicans.

“I sort of drew a line in the sand, threw down the gauntlet,” Boehner said, employing the most commonly used descriptors of his position that it is more important to cut spending than to ensure that the federal government has flexibility to finance its programs.

“Inaction in my view is not an option,” he added.

Boehner also said he intends to continue the GOP’s push to curb regulatory activities by the Obama administration.

“I’m all for clean water and clean air, but, my God, how many rules does this government need to have?” Boehner complained of what he called the federal “regulatory juggernaut.”

Veering into international economic commentary, Boehner blamed the continuing economic crisis in Europe on inaction by European Union governments in reining in spending and debt, predicting a “contagion” will likely spread beyond Greece. That country has been subject to among the most austere of government spending cuts, which have been followed by massive unemployment spikes and civil and political strife.

Correction: 2:05 p.m.

An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect name for where Boehner spoke Tuesday. It was the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

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