Taking a swipe at fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, John Boehner said “this institution is broken” and earned its reputation for “fiscal recklessness.”
Boehner, in line to become House speaker if Republicans win control of the chamber in the November 2 election, said “congressional rules are rigged” to make it easy to increase spending and nearly impossible to cut spending.
“We should … consider developing a ‘cut-as-you-go rule,’” Boehner said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
“If it is your intention to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size — in the very same bill,” Boehner said.
He also called for an end to bills being rammed through the House without opportunities for changes.
“More debate and more amendments will mean more intense scrutiny, and ultimately, better legislation,” Boehner said.
Democrats fired back by suggesting that Boehner was a hypocrite for preaching reform.
They complained that he opposed their reforms in recent years on matters from federal spending to campaign financing to tightening oversight of congressional ethics.
A press release by the office of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi carried the headline: “House Republican Leader Boehner to give speech on reform despite leading GOP effort against it.”
The release noted that during the 12 years that Republicans held Congress before Democrats won control in the 2006 elections, the U.S. debt nearly doubled and that the number of “pet projects” in federal spending bills quadrupled.
Public approval of Congress has been on the decline for years regardless which party was in the majority. With Democrats controlling the House and Senate the past four years, its approval rating now stands at about 20 percent.
This disdain for Congress, largely because of the weak U.S. economy, is a major reason why polls show Republicans may win the House and perhaps the Senate in November.
Boehner said he wants to hear what others have to say.
“I welcome ideas and helping hands from any lawmaker or citizen about how to make this institution function again,” he said.
Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press