WASHINGTON - House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that his decision to allow billions in across-the-board budget cuts to take effect is forcing President Obama to recalibrate his approach to taxes and government spending, but he acknowledged that it was a strategy born out of limited options.
"We forged a new tactical plan that focused on using our limited leverage to maximum effect in support of the reforms needed to support economic growth and job creation for all Americans," Boehner wrote Thursday in an Easter week message to fellow House Republicans.
"Republicans may be the minority party in Washington - but because we forged a plan together and have stuck to it, our actions as a team over the past couple of months have made a difference for all Americans," Boehner wrote.
The speaker's letter, meant to provide rank-and-file lawmakers with talking points as they continue a two-week recess, came just days after Congress approved a short-term spending plan that embraced the $85 billion in spending cuts, known as sequestration, that began March 1. That short-term plan will keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year.
The Republican focus on the spending cuts - rather than on picking fights on the short-term spending plan or an increase in the federal debt limit - denied Obama "the ability to hide behind straw men in his reluctance to control spending," Boehner said.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., dismissed Boehner's comments as the latest example of "governing by sound bite."
In a statement issued Thursday, Pelosi said: "If they don't have the Congress lurching from manufactured crisis to crisis, then they're passing gimmicks that do nothing to address the urgent priorities of the American people."
Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia, an outspoken member of the Democratic caucus, disagreed with Boehner's assessment, asserting that it was Boehner who had been forced to recalibrate. He noted that the House gave final approval to last year's "fiscal cliff" deal, pushed back further debate on raising the federal debt limit until the summer, allotted billions in aid to victims of superstorm Sandy and reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act.
"All four of those bills passed with a majority of Democratic support and a small minority of Republicans," Connolly said. "And I give Speaker Boehner credit for allowing those votes. It hurts his speakership, from one point of view, but it allowed the House to work its will, and he deserves credit for that."