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Obama Blasts Boehner for Likening Bank Overhaul Bill to Nuking an 'Ant'

June 30, 2010: President Obama speaks at a town-hall style event on the economy at Racine Memorial Hall in Racine, Wis.AP

President Obama singled out House Republican Leader John Boehner in a Wisconsin speech Wednesday, hammering the GOP lawmaker for appearing to compare the financial crisis to an "ant." 

It's been a while since the president called out an individual member of Congress during remarks, but with a banking overhaul bill on the verge of coming for a full and final vote in Congress, Obama ripped into Boehner for telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the legislation is like "killing an ant with a nuclear weapon." 

Obama, during a Racine, Wis., town hall on Wednesday afternoon, said an "ant swatter" will not fix the problem. 

"That's what he said -- he compared the financial crisis to an ant," Obama said, chuckling. "This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly 8 million jobs. The same crisis that cost people their homes and their life savings," Obama said. "He can't be that out of touch with the struggles of American families." 

Obama didn't stop there, as he continued to describe the minority party as uncooperative, partisan and self-centered. He took aim next at Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton's public apology to oil giant BP two weeks ago for being pushed into creating a relief fund for victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Barton later apologized for the apology, but Obama made he clear he didn't buy it. 

"He meant it, but then they kind of walked it back," the president said. 

In response to the speech, Boehner released a written statement Wednesday afternoon accusing the president of engaging in "childish partisanship." 

"The president should be focused on solving the problems of the American people -- stopping the leaking oil and cleaning up the Gulf, scrapping his job-killing agenda, repealing and replacing ObamaCare -- instead of my choice of metaphors," Boehner said. 

He also clarified the "ant" metaphor, saying it wasn't meant to minimize the financial crisis but to point out that Democrats have "produced a bill that will actually kill more jobs and make the situation worse." 

That's not how the White House took it. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that the statement shows how "out of touch" the Republican leadership is.

The president is using remarks during his trip to push for passage of the banking reform bill, which is expected to come up for a vote in the House on Wednesday but has been pushed back in the Senate beyond the July 4 recess that the president had hoped would serve as a deadline for passage. 

But the trip to Racine also is meant to highlight the city's rebound with the help of $22.5 million in federal stimulus dollars provided through the Recovery Act. 

In a fact sheet released ahead of the trip, the White House boasted that the 2009 stimulus package created or saved 59,000 jobs. In the same release, it highlighted that 12 times as many people are receiving more jobless benefits. 

"More than 730,000 Wisconsin residents have expanded unemployment benefits because of the Recovery Act," the release reads. 

Amid concerns about the impact the nearly $862 billion stimulus package is having on the deficit, the Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday also reiterated projections showing the national debt growing to "unsustainable levels" without budget changes. 

"If policymakers are to put the nation on a sustainable budgetary path, they will need to let revenues increase substantially as a percentage of gross domestic product, decrease spending significantly from projected levels, or adopt some combination of those two approaches," Director Doug Elmendorf said on his official blog.

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