House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) responded angrily when asked about the strong opposition from conservative groups over the budget deal announced on Tuesday by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
An unidentified reporter asked about the groups which had blasted the deal — more aptly called the Republican Surrender Act of 2013 — and warned members of Congress that they would key vote against it on their respective scorecards. Before the reporter could finish her question, Boehner cut her off, clearly agitated, and shot back, “You mean the groups that came out and opposed it before they ever saw it?”
“They’re using our members, and they’re using the American people, for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” he said. “Listen, if you’re for more deficit reduction, you’re for this agreement.”
A number of conservative groups announced their opposition to the deal based on media reports of the early details, which turned out to be remarkably accurate, because it would spend more than levels set under the bipartisan Budget Control Act of 2011, thus partially erasing spending cuts. What’s more, the Ryan-Murray budget deal does nothing to address the real drivers of federal spending.
The formal announcement of the deal only confirmed what they already knew — that it would spend more and bring promises of deficit reduction that the doubt will come to pass. But some of these conservative groups didn’t waste any time in firing back at Boehner for his comments.
“Once again Republicans, led by John Boehner, are working with Democrats to increase spending yet again on the taxpayers’ tab while promising ‘savings’ down the road. We know how this movie ends,” said Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of FreedomWorks, one of the groups that announced their opposition to the deal before it was formally announced.
“How can leadership credibly promise spending cuts later, after agreeing to a plan that rolls back the sequester savings promised two debt increases ago? There’s a predictable pattern here,” he added.
The Club for Growth didn’t announce opposition before the deal was announced, but they came out strongly against it on Wednesday, noting that the agreement “swaps debt reduction today and next year, for the dubious promise of debt reduction a decade from now.”
The organization responded to Boehner, stating that they “stand with Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tom Coburn, Rand Paul, members of the Republican Study Committee and every other fiscal conservative who opposes the Ryan-Murray deal.”
“After carefully reviewing the budget deal, on which we never commented until it was complete, we determined that it would increase the size of government,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “We support pro-growth proposals when they are considered by Congress. In our evaluation, this isn’t one of those.”
Though there is some strong opposition to the deal, The Atlantic reported yesterday that conservatives in Congress “seemed resigned to the agreement” because it’s likely to attract enough support from both sides of the aisle in each chamber to pass.
There are reports, however, that Democrats may revolt over the deal because it doesn’t extend unemployment benefits. That, coupled with opposition from conservative groups could sink the deal.
“For this bad deal to pass, Boehner is going to need to get Democrat votes to help him again,” said Jackie Bodnar of FreedomWorks. “There is a strong opposition to this budget deal from many conservative Republicans in the House, and at some point Boehner needs to decide which party he is helping lead the House.
“Our activists plan to keep the pressure up from the outside, and this vote will be key in setting the tone for 2014. The grassroots are watching,” she added.