HAMILTON, Ohio - Speaker John Boehner (Ohio-R) talked about the current job market, his performance and government spending Monday in an exclusive interview with 9 On your Side.
Rep. Boehner toured Vinylmax, a window manufacturer in Hamilton, at 11 a.m. and the congressman from West Chester delivered brief remarks to employees at the facility. He discussed job creation and his plan for getting government spending under control. Boehner said he visited the business because he had a free day in his district and likes to get out to see what's going on, and hear what's on the minds of his constituents.
"The people here, they're concerned about the deficit, what Obamacare is going to do to the cost of health care," Boehner said. "Obamacare comes with a hefty price tag."
9 On Your Side Anchor Carol Williams sat down for an exclusive one-on-one interview with Boehner following his speech. Boehner said he is looking forward to the State of the Union address Tuesday and focusing on how President Barack Obama can help shape the nation in the next four years.
"I would think that the number one issue [during the State of the Union] ought to be the economy and jobs," Boehner said. "If we're serious about putting Americans back to work, we've got to get back to the basics in Washington."
Boehner went on to say that the president hasn't been "serious" about the budget and that he won't admit the U.S. has a spending problem, adding that Obama's budget got zero votes in both the house and the Senate.
When asked about the upcoming sequester the country faces, Boehner said it's time for the president to come up with a plan.
"It's there because the president insisted on not having a deal on the second debt limit vote before his re-election," Boehner said.
"It's time for the president to come forward with a plan. What's his plan to replace the sequester?" Boehner continued. "If the Democrats don't act, we're going to end up in the sequester."
Boehner said the sequester would cause $90 billion in cuts, half of which will come out of defense, and it will affect jobs in the Tri-State.
"People working for the Department of Defense, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, [there's a] tremendous impact on those employees because some number of them are going to have to be furloughed," Boehner said. "On the non-defense side of the sequester, there are education cuts, Head Start cuts; doctors, hospitals will see a small reduction. It's going to be far more pervasive than I think people realize."
Boehner says the effect on a small business like Vinylmax will cause less money in the economy.
But the speaker says he's an "optimist" the sequester will be resolved before the March 1 deadline.
"I think we're at this crisis because... leaders that have come before me keep kicking this can down the road," Boehner said.
But despite Boehner's disdain for the Democratic party's treatment of these issues, he says he has a "very good" relationship with President Barack Obama.
"We get along fine, understand each other pretty well. We don't believe in the same things, but we're polite to each other, we can kid around with each other," Boehner said.
Williams also asked Boehner about his relationship in his own party, noting that 12 Republicans did not vote for him to be Speaker of the House in this past election.
"We've had our share of ups and downs over the last couple of years, this last month has gone pretty well in terms of rebuilding the unity within our own caucus, but listen, we've got 234 Republicans, and I come from a family of 12, I've got some experience at this," Boehner said. "They're coming [along]. I think that changing strategies at this point is the right thing to do."
Boehner said in the past couple of years of his service, he has tried to facilitate to try and come to an agreement with the president on things, but that this time around, regular order is the way he wants to proceed.
"The House will do its job, send a bill over to the Senate, and expect them to do their job," Boehner said.
"The idea that [the president] and I will go behind closed doors and cut some big deal just isn't going to happen, it hasn't happened," Boehner added.
Boehner commented on his own accomplishments as Speaker of the House, giving himself a "B" score as speaker, mostly because of what he said were problems in his own party.
"In terms of working with our Democrat colleagues in the House, it's gone very well," Boehner said. "But I've treated both sides [of the House] fairly, which is what I think the Speaker of the House is supposed to do."
Boehner said his priority over the next two years is the economy, but it's not the only thing he is going to focus on. He also mentioned attempting to educate more of America's kids to compete in a global market. He also said that Congress was going to deal with immigration in 2013.
"It's been around now for about 10 years, there have been all kinds of scar tissue build up, but I've had a group of Democrats and Republicans meeting for four years, and I expect that we're going to get an announcement from them very soon," Boehner said.
Boehner also touched on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook disaster.
"I think that Joe Biden's running around, talking to agencies and coming forward was really a political answer to the tragedy in Connecticut, and we all feel for those families. But I think if we're serious about this we really ought to put a blue ribbon panel together of Americans to talk about violence in our society. Why don't we talk about the root causes of the violence that we see," Boehner said. "I'm not sure that passing more gun legislation will accomplish anything and it's sending Americans a false sense of security when we're not honest with them."
When asked what he wants his legacy to be as speaker, Boehner said three words: "Fair, up-front, straightforward."
You can watch the entire interview with speaker Boehner in the media player above. (Mobile users: go to a browser version of WCPO.com to see the video).
Vinylmax LLC, located at 2921 McBride Court, is one of the top 100 window manufacturers in North America and also one of the fastest growing, according to the company's website. The company has several hundred employees.