Any influence outside conservative groups have on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may have all but died Thursday when a braver Boehner unleashed a fresh round of criticism, claiming they have “lost all your credibility.”
Several right-wing organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks have condemned the bipartisan budget agreement announced by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., on Tuesday because it increases federal discretionary spending to more than $1 trillion, slightly above the sequester total that the deal replaced.
However, Boehner has hailed the measure as a breakthrough and said he felt it was his duty to speak up for Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, and conservatives who want more deficit reduction.
“When groups come out and criticize an agreement that they’ve never seen, you begin to wonder just how credible those actions are,” Boehner said.
“Yeah, [the deal is] not everything we wanted,” he later added. “Our job is to find enough common ground to move the ball down the field on behalf of the American people who sent us here to do their work.”
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The budget conference committee deal reduces the deficit by only $23 billion. However, the speaker said because the measure achieves more reduction than under the Budget Control Act, he doesn’t understand why conservatives would oppose it.
Boehner’s continued denunciation of the groups came a day after he accused them of using conservative members of Congress and their supporters for their own ends.
“Frankly, I think they are misleading their followers,” the speaker said. “I think they are pushing our members in places they don’t want to be and frankly, I just think they’ve lost all credibility.”
Boehner admitted to reporters that the groups pushed conservative Republicans in October to defund Obamacare and gridlock Congress, leading to the first U.S. government shutdown in 17 years. The shutdown lasted 16 days and furloughed approximately 800,000 federal workers. And in the process the U.S. economy lost more than $20 billion in GDP.
“Most of you know, my members know, that wasn’t exactly the strategy I had in mind,” Boehner said, adding that he is just as conservative as the next guy.
When asked by a reporter if this is a call to the groups to stand down, Boehner said, “I don’t care what they do.”
“It just comes to a point when some people step over the line,” Boehner said. “When you criticized something and you have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility.”
FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe issued a press release in response to the speaker, stating Boehner may not care about the actions of fiscally conservative groups but that grassroots Americans are watching him closely.
“When it comes to ‘credibility,’ actions speak louder than words,” Kibbe said. “And right now, it looks like the speaker is leading the charge for spending increases and recruiting Democrat votes in the House to help get it done. The math is not that complicated. They are spending another $63 billion that we don’t have. The American people deserve to have a voice in this process, especially since we are going to be the ones to foot the bill.”