House Minority Leader John Boehner on Tuesday called on President Obama to fire his economics team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and adviser Lawrence Summers, warning that the policies put in place by the Democratically led Congress and White House have left businesses "scared to death" of investing in the economy or hiring new employees.
Boehner, an Ohio Republican, spoke at the City Club of Cleveland, delivering what the GOP billed as an alternative to Obama's economic policies as the two parties gear up for midterm elections.
Rather than specify how he would govern as speaker if Republicans reclaim the House in November, Boehner stuck to giving advice to the president, rolling out a handful of proposals he believes Obama should implement to steer the struggling economy back to prosperity, including the resignations of Geithner and Summers.
"The American people are asking 'Where are the jobs?' -- and all the president's economic team has to offer are promises of 'green shoots' that never seem to grow," Boehner said.
Democrats were quick to ridicule Boehner's advice and pointed out the Congressional Budget Office announced Tuesday that the stimulus plan criticized by Republicans had helped increase economic growth by as much as 4.5 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who on Tuesday was touting stimulus spending on science and technology, said Boehner had done little to shed light on the Republican plan to help the economy.
"His chief proposal, when you look at it, apparently was that the president should fire his economic team," Biden quipped in a speech. "Very constructive advice and we thank the leader for that."
Boehner said a GOP majority would not raise taxes and would reduce federal spending but he did not propose specific legislation.
Republican leaders have resisted outlining a formal agenda, saying they will wait until the fall to provide details of their game plan after hearing from constituents over the summer. Boehner promised to release in September "a clear and positive governing agenda focused on getting people working again."
"Boehner has once again failed to articulate any competing economic philosophy for the Republicans to run on," Democratic strategist Doug Schoen told The Washington Examiner. "Boehner may have upped the ante by calling on Obama to fire his economic team, but he has yet to offer an alternative economic agenda of his own for the GOP."
Boehner said Obama should abandon plans to increase taxes for those in the top tax bracket, which he said would result in higher taxes on half of all small business income, a claim disputed by Democrats. Boehner also called on Obama to send to Congress "an aggressive spending reduction package" and said Congress should slash nondefense spending to 2008 levels.
Republican political strategist Ron Bonjean said Boehner didn't need to provide a detailed GOP agenda.
"His speech perfectly made it a referendum on the Obama administration and forced them to deploy the vice president and feed more oxygen to the story," said Bonjean, a former top leadership aide in both the House and Senate. "The specifics were enough, but what really mattered was the strategy of creating headlines about a struggling White House economic team."