This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," March 4, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, the Rush to attack Rush, it is all a White House strategy to distract you from White House policies — that's what Republican Congressman John Boehner's saying today. The House minority leader joining me right now.
Mr. Minority Leader, good to have you. Thank you for coming.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Neil, good to be with you.
CAVUTO: The train has left the station, as they say, and I'm wondering whether, if this is a distraction, whether it's working, because latest polls seem to show high support for the president, high support for what he's doing. What do you make of that?
BOEHNER: Well, I think this — this whole thing was created by the White House to be a distraction from his policies, in the budget, whether it's the stimulus package, the omnibus package with 9,000 earmarks or his plan to raise taxes on all Americans and have the largest increase in spending that we've ever seen.
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And so I think the American people are looking for both parties to work together to solve the problems that they're dealing with every day and that's what the White House ought to be focused on, that's what we're focused on up here on Capitol Hill.
CAVUTO: Without belaboring the point then, do you think that this dust-up or the original disagreement between Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh complicated that pitch?
BOEHNER: Well, listen, again, it's just part of what became an ongoing distraction. It's just time to get back to do the real work the American people sent us here to deal with.
Listen, Americans, and, I believe, all of us want American to succeed. We want to get our economy rolling again.
We have disagreements over the president's policies because, frankly, I'm afraid they're not going to work. And I want to make sure that American families and small businesses, the real engines of our economy, get back off up out of the dust and put people back to work. I'm just afraid that all of these policies we're seeing out of the administration won't accomplish that.
CAVUTO: Well, that's kind of been Rush's message, as you know, and I spoke to John McCain about this yesterday, Congressman. He said there might be somewhat of a point there.
This is from yesterday:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I think Mr. Limbaugh speaks for a number of Republicans. I think Governor Pawlenty and Jindal and Palin and others do, and Charlie Crist and others. I think a lot of us speak — I think I still speak a little for the Republican Party. Let's all speak for the things that we value and the things we believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: I guess the argument now, though, Congressman, is that Republicans are not clear where they stand. I mean, there's more arguing and sniping these days among each other than there is at the other guy, or such is the perception. What do you say?
BOEHNER: Neil, Neil, listen, the White House started this the day after the president was sworn in. They started this little skirmish to draw attention away from what was going on here in Washington.
And I'm not going to get into some debate with the White House about why they did it. The American people want us to get the economy moving. That's what I'm focused in on every day, and that's what Republicans on Capitol Hill ought to be working with our Democrat colleagues, to have policies that are sensible that will put Americans back to work and get our economy moving and keep the stock market going up like it was today.
CAVUTO: All right. Now, what's odd about the stock market's run-up today, Congressman, is it had a lot to do with stimulus, not here but in China, response to the fact that China might be getting it, but that we do not, because a lot of China's stimulus is built on tax cuts and that sort of thing.
What do you make of just that?
BOEHNER: Well, as you're well aware, when the president passed his $800 billion stimulus plan, that in my view will do nothing but grow the size of government, Republicans had a plan that said, hey, let's let American families and small businesses keep more of what they earn.
Our plan would cost half as much as the administration's plan and create twice as many jobs.
At the end of the day, it's the American small-business person, it's the American family that are going to get this economy going again, not growing the size of government.
CAVUTO: But you're also very big on making sure tax cuts are a key theme going forward. It doesn't appear that they will be. There's already a move not only to raise taxes on the upper income, but if a number of big states have their way — New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, California among those considering a tax hike on top of that for the wealthy in their state, which could bring the top rate over 50 percent.
You have argued it's just a matter of time before others feel the same pinch. But it doesn't seem to be registering, Congressman, in these poll numbers. And you're right, they're murky and unreliable, but they're consistent enough to say that Americans at this point don't seem to care about that. What do you make of that?
BOEHNER: Well, listen, you know it won't work, I know it won't work. And part of my job is to help the American people understand that if you took all of the wealth that the top 5 percent in America have, it will not fix this problem and it will hardly put a dent in the budget deficit that's being proposed.
It's — it's — it's wrong. The last person to do this, to raise taxes like this in the middle of a recession, was Herbert Hoover, and we know what happened there.
CAVUTO: Now, the idea that spending could be stimulative, something's got to stick here, right? I know you're against this, but the argument is something sticks, and if it does, and if the economy does pick up, they'll take full credit for that — that is, Democrats — and argue that you and your colleagues were mere obstructionists. What say you?
BOEHNER: Well, listen, Neil, if you throw enough paper, enough money against the wall, some of it is bound to stick.
I think our job is to be responsible with the American people's money, because at the end of the day we have to remember, it's the American people's money, not government's money. It doesn't belong to the president, doesn't belong to Congress. This belongs to real people around America.
And when they see how some of their money's going to be spent in the stimulus package, let me tell you what, they're not going to like it.
And I don't worry about poll numbers. What I worry about is doing the right things for the right reasons, because if you do that every day the right things will happen.
CAVUTO: I know you've been trying to keep your troops in line here, but the dirty little secret is that, you know, 3,800, 4,000 of those nearly 9,000 earmarks were Republican earmarks in this spending bill, so Republicans are just as guilty of this sin. How do you rein them in?
BOEHNER: Listen, I have tried to solve this problem over the last three years unsuccessfully. This was why I have asked the president to veto this bill. It has 9,000 earmarks in it. He campaigned against this kind of spending. And he can't get by with this idea, "Well, that's last year's work and so I'm just going to let it go by."
It's this Congress that's passing this bill. He is the president of the United States. This bill does require his signature. And if he's serious about ending wasteful Washington spending, he ought to veto this bill.
What we ought to do is not increase spending by some $30 billion for the balance of this fiscal year, through September 30. What we ought to do is just have a C. R. — a spending freeze for the balance of this fiscal year, and show the American people that we're serious about holding the line on spending.
CAVUTO: Well, you might be, but a lot of colleagues aren't, a lot of Democrats aren't. Is this just going to be the same old game?
BOEHNER: I have already promised the president of the United States that if he vetoes this bill, I will deliver 146 votes to uphold his veto from the Republican side of the aisle.