Late Edition John Boehner Claims Republicans Are The Real "Agents Of Change"

It's pretty laughable to watch the leader of the party of stagnation and obstructionism claim that Republicans will win in November once they prove to voters that they're the real "agents of change." I wonder if Boehner realizes how foolish he sounds? Doubtful.

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BOEHNER: Well, Wolf, we've got a steep hill to climb. It's a challenging year for Republicans. I think Republicans, we have to do is show that we're agents of change. We have to go out there and show the American people that we have solutions, which we do, for the economy, gas prices, our national security and health care. And I think if we're able to go out there and present a clear choice to the American people, I think we'll do much better than the people expect in this election cycle.

The American people do realize that Republicans have "solutions" to their problems, Congressman. The only thing is that they categorically reject them on every level.

This month, the Democrats are trusted more than Republicans on eight out of ten electoral issues tracked regularly by Rasmussen Reports (see data tables). The two parties are essentially even on the other two issues.

Among voters not affiliated with either major political party, the Democrats also have the advantage on eight out of ten issues.

So, by all means, please go out there and make the case that Republicans want to make the tax cuts permanent, cover up the energy crisis with "gas tax holiday" gimmicks, vest the President with draconian and unchecked spying powers, and deny millions of Americans access to quality health care. That will just make our jobs easier.

Transcript below the fold:

BLITZER: Welcome back to LATE EDITION. Throughout the program, we're going to reflect a little bit on the life and legacy of NBC's Tim Russert. Tim was a consummate journalist and one of the toughest interviewers on television. Here's a little sample.


BOEHNER: We're going to have Republicans who are skeptical of this plan who will probably vote for this.

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RUSSERT: How many?

BOEHNER: And while --

RUSSERT: How many do you think?

BOEHNER: We may lose the vote on this, we will not lose the debate on this.

RUSSERT: You lose a third of the Republicans?

BOEHNER: I don't think we'll lose a third.

RUSSERT: Ten percent?

(CROSSTALK) RUSSERT: You had said that this resolution would demoralize the troops. But the secretary of defense, Robert Gates, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs said that is just not true.


BLITZER: Joining us now from Cincinnati is the man who got some pressure that day, pretty hard pressure, from Tim Russert, the House Republican Leader John Boehner. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.

BOEHNER: Wolf, good morning.

BLITZER: Before we get to some of the other issues, the economy, taxes, energy, your thoughts right now? I know you were on the receiving end sometimes of some tough questions from Tim Russert. But give us your thoughts on this very sad Father's Day weekend.

BOEHNER: Wolf, he was a tough journalist and clearly the preeminent political journalist in Washington. But Tim and I had a very special relationship. We kind of grew up in the same kind of blue collar neighborhoods. He in Buffalo, I here in Cincinnati. My dad owns a tavern. We both went to Jesuit schools. And, you know, growing up Catholic together.

And so after he wrote his book about "Big Russ & Me," I had a chance to talk to Tim about his experiences growing up with his father, my experiences growing up with my father and I can tell that you the two of us shed a tear together one day. He was a great human being. Someone who clearly loved his family and did a marvelous job covering those of us in politics. But let me tell you, he was a tough, well-prepared interviewer.

BLITZER: He certainly was and we will all miss him. We're going to have some more reflections on Tim coming up here on LATE EDITION.

Let's get to the most important issues out on the agenda right now. And you're the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives. In our latest CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, we asked registered voters all across the United States who would handle the economy better. Fifty percent said Barack Obama. John McCain got 44 percent. Among registered voters, we asked your choice for Congress. Look at this.

BLITZER: Do you support a Democratic Congress? Fifty-four percent said they do, 44 percent said they would support Republicans in Congress. You've got a huge problem awaiting you come November because it looks, if you believe in these numbers, congressman, you believe in some of the special elections that have recently taken place, you're on the verge of suffering even greater losses in your minority status in the House of Representatives.

BOEHNER: Well, Wolf, we've got a steep hill to climb. It's a challenging year for Republicans. I think Republicans, we have to do is show that we're agents of change. We have to go out there and show the American people that we have solutions, which we do, for the economy, gas prices, our national security and health care. And I think if we're able to go out there and present a clear choice to the American people, I think we'll do much better than the people expect in this election cycle.

BLITZER: Senator Obama, the new leader of the Democrats, now says that if the Republicans take over, if McCain gets elected, it's simply going to be more tax giveaways to the wealthiest Americans. Listen to Senator Obama.


OBAMA: Senator McCain is now calling for this new round of tax giveaways that are twice as expensive, twice as expensive as the original Bush plan and nearly three times -- nearly three times as regressive. Understand regressive means it is skewed to hurt low income and middle income people and that help rich people.


BLITZER: All right. You want to respond to Senator Obama?

BOEHNER: Wolf, if you look back over the -- really the last 27 years, since 1981 when Ronald Reagan cut the top tax rate from 70 percent to 28 percent, we've been cutting taxes for the last 27 years by and large.

And what's happened? We've allowed the American people to keep more of their own money, to invest in our economy, to expand the jobs in our economy and, guess what? We've got more people working, a healthier economy. More people are paying taxes. More revenue coming to the federal government.

Washington doesn't have a revenue problem. Washington has a spending problem. And I think that reducing taxes, allowing the American people to invest in their own future is a much better prescription than what Barack Obama and the liberal Democrats want which is higher taxes, bigger government in Washington and more control from Washington.

BLITZER: During the past almost eight years when the Republicans were -- except for the last year or so were in charge of both the White House and the Congress, the national debt went from around $5 trillion to more than $9 trillion. This is the debt that our children and grandchildren and their grandchildren are going to be paying off for a long time to come. Why should the voters trust the Republicans?

BOEHNER: Well, the real issue here is that you look at the additional domestic spending, it was mostly for our -- the efforts after 9/11. Homeland security, war in Afghanistan, war in Iraq and a growing entitlement problem.

The president is trying to address the Social Security entitlement program and got nowhere. If we don't address the long- term problem of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid where we've made promises, we, the baby boomers, have made promises to ourselves that our kids and their kids cannot afford. We need to address these programs because that's where the real run-up in the national debt is occurring. And I can tell you the Republicans earn back the majority of the Congress, we will address this entitlement crisis head on and be straight up and honest with the American people.

BLITZER: The price of a gallon of gas here in the United States, the average now over $4. And in some parts of country even approaching $4.50 and even $5 a gallon. Many Republicans including you, you want to start drilling. Especially drilling in Alaska, the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. The leader of the republicans now John McCain says bad idea. Listen to this.


MCCAIN: I understand that the attractiveness of it. I would also say to you I would not drill in the Grand Canyon. I wouldn't drill in the Everglades. And I believe that this area should be kept in pristine preservation.


BLITZER: He is referring to what's called the Anwar oil reserves, the oil fields out there. Why he is wrong?

BOEHNER: Well, in my opinion, we can drill in Anwar in an environmentally safe way. And so John McCain and I disagree. But we do agree we could have more domestic drilling here in the United States in an environmentally safe way.

You know, if we're going to get serious about getting off of our dependence on foreign energy, we got to do what I call all of the above. We need more conservation. We need an alternative fuels. We need biofuels. We need to look at nuclear energy in a more serious way. And, yes, we need to drill more and to develop more domestic production.

And over the 18 years that I've been in Congress, there have been 46 votes to bring more domestic production online. And I voted 46 times to have more production in the United States. Nancy Pelosi on those same 46 votes, only voted twice to bring more domestic production.

And if you look at the record over the last 18 years, Republicans have been for more domestic production, trying to get off of our dependence of foreign energy and about 90 percent of the time the Democrats have opposed this. And I can tell you, Wolf, that each and every day over the next five months leading up to this election, Republicans are going to force the Congress to deal with this issue. It's time to be honest with the American people and show them if you don't want to drill, show the American people you don't want to drill.

BLITZER: Congressman Boehner, thanks very much for joining us. Happy Father's Day.


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