Boehner Urges Republicans to Focus on Economy, Not Wright

Republicans should focus on the U.S. economy and not waste time and money attacking President Barack Obama over his ties to his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., House Speaker John Boehner said today.

Interviewed on ABC’s “This Week,” Boehner joined presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in decrying a Republican strategist’s aborted plan to air racially tinged ads against Obama. Racially incendiary sermons by Wright became an issue in 2008 when Obama won the presidency.

“The issue is not Reverend Wright,” Boehner said. “The issue is the economy. This kind of nonsense shouldn’t happen. The election’s going be about the economy and getting Americans back to work.”

Boehner reiterated that Congress shouldn’t wait until after the November elections to pass legislation aimed at reducing the federal debt. He acknowledged he faces a challenge corralling House Republicans.

“It is hard to keep 218 frogs in a wheelbarrow long enough to get a bill passed,” he said, referring to the number of lawmakers needed to pass bills in the House.

Boehner, who previously said there is a one-in-three chance Republicans could lose control of the House in November, said, “If the election were held today, I feel good about it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, also appeared on the ABC program and challenged Boehner to bring legislation to the House floor to cut taxes for middle-income earners.

“We all know we have to reduce the deficit,” she said. “We have to do it in a balanced way.”

‘Debt Crisis’

“The big thing hurting our economy is a debt crisis, and the president’s done absolutely nothing to prevent this from happening, only to put more uncertainty on businesses,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”

Uncertainty on taxes, regulations, interest rates, inflation and the debt crisis are having a chilling effect on economic growth, he said.

Obama’s approach is to address the deficit in a balanced way, Austan Goolsbee, former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“The counter coming from the Romney campaign, and even in the Ryan plan itself, is let us have massive cuts twice as big so that we can pay for the deficit reduction and multi-trillion dollars of additional tax cuts that are predominantly going to high-income people,” said Goolsbee, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Romney’s Record

In separate appearances on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Democratic political strategist David Axelrod and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus traded charges over which candidate is better suited to manage the economy.

Romney’s business record shows his main concern was to amass wealth “by any means possible,” Axelrod said. As head of Bain Capital LLC, Romney sacrificed benefits for workers while he and his partners at the private-equity company “always walked away with money,” he said.

Priebus said the general election will be “a referendum” on whether Obama “fulfilled his promises” to improve the economy.

“People can’t fill up the gas tank and buy a full set of groceries,” he said, adding that Obama “hasn’t done a thing about getting the deficit under control.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Strohm in Washington a cstrohm1@bloomberg.net; Eric Engleman in Washington at eengleman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net

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