MIDDLETOWN, Ohio - U.S. House Speaker John Boehner Tuesday challenged President Obama to "seize the moment" and help solve America's significant money troubles to create jobs and turn the economy around.
Boehner, Ohio's Republican 8th District U.S. Representative, made the comment to members of the Middletown Rotary Club and their guests at the Middletown Senior Center in the heart of his district.
"We have a window of opportunity to solve our problems, to begin to put America back on a sound fiscal foundation and we need to seize the moment," he said.
House Republicans have developed a "Plan For America's Job Creators," which Boehner said can help trim the nation's $1.5 trillion budget deficit and help lower the $14.3 trillion federal debt.
"It's really pretty straight-forward," Boehner said. "We need to reduce the regulatory burden and the regulatory uncertainty that's coming out of Washington."
The Speaker said government has become a barrier for many job creators with its taxing, spending and regulatory actions. He added that means a lot of businesses are hanging onto their money waiting for the uncertainty to go away.
Allowing drilling for oil and natural gas on U.S. soil could create one million jobs, according to Boehner, while free trade agreements with Columbia, Panama and South Korea could create another 250,000 positions.
However. he added those projects will never be finished as long as the debt and deficit issues remain unsolved. Boehner called the agreement to reduce government spending $79 billion a good first step, but more drastic steps are necessary.
"We can't borrow and spend our way to prosperity," he said. "We won't add to the debt without spending cuts."
That could mean reworking entitlement programs for some Americans.
"If you are 55 or older, there will be no change in the programs. None. Zero. None." Boehner said. "If you're under 54 and younger, we've got to change these programs and make them more sustainable or they won't exist."
Boehner said there is no more time to kick the can down the road on these problems.
"I really do think that this it he moment that we need to deal with it and the sooner we deal with it the better off our country will be," he stated.
Fairfield contractor Will Arledge was among six people in the mainly pro-business audience that was able to ask the Speaker questions.
Arledge wanted to know how Washington will be able to manage the budget deficit and debt problems. Boehner had a quick response that focused on reducing government spending.
"Washington has a spending problem. It doesn't have a revenue problem," he said, adding that Republicans will not support raising taxes.
"We're not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and to create jobs," the Speaker said. "When you've got an economy this weak, the last thing you want to do is to take more of that money out of the economy and send it to Washington because you know what's going to happen to it in Washington? It's not like it's going to spent well. It's not like it's going to create jobs."
Arledge said he thinks Boehner can get the job done.
"We just need Washington to clean its act up and reduce the spending," he said. "We've heard politicians say no new taxes before, so we just need to see if they carry it through this time."
In the middle of the audience was Jay Dollries, President of Innovative Labeling Systems (ILS) in Fairfield Township. Boehner visited the plant a month ago and expressed the same views on the debt and deficit.
ILS invested $2 million for new printing presses a year ago and business is starting to change for the better. However, Dollries said the biggest hurdle still to be cleared is regulation reform.
"Really, having Washington out of our way," he said. "Let us operate as a business. Stop trying to tax us. Quit demonizing businesses that are employing people because that's the message that we heard during the last election cycle."
Bill Trick, President of the Middletown-Monroe-Trenton Chamber of Commerce, said providing certainty for his members is the biggest need.
"Certainty of regulation, certainty of stability, so people know that they can count on the next two or three years to be stable," he said. "Even though they know the growth rate unfortunately is not as fast as we like it to happen, we think with certainty people will make the commitment. We think they'll make the investment."
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