Last week, I had the good fortune to interview newly sworn in Speaker of the House John Boehner in his new office. The interview was for the U.S. Chamber’s monthly member magazine Free Enterprise and will be the cover story of our February issue. Speaker Boehner was a great host and eagerly discussed many issues important to the Chamber’s members, such as the high cost-both in premiums and in jobs-of the new health care law, the unintended consequences of the financial regulatory reform bill, and the likelihood of tax reform this year. When asked, the Speaker even told me what he’d love to be doing if he wasn’t one of the most powerful people in politics. Below are some outtakes from the interview, which can be read in full at www.uschambermagazine.com.
Free Enterprise: Before you were elected to Congress, you owned a small business. How did that experience shape the way you govern?
John Boehner: When I was running my business [Nucite Sales, a small sales business in the packaging and plastics industry], it was not just my own business; it was my customers’ and suppliers.’ Every day it was more government, more taxes, more regulation. That’s what eventually drove me to come here. I didn’t come here because I wanted to be a congressman. I came here because I wanted to do something. It really boils down to this–the more the government takes from the American people, the less they have to invest in themselves, their families, their communities, or their businesses. We all know the bigger the government gets, the smaller the people get.
FE: What policies will you push to spark small business growth and job creation?
JB: Well there are two important issues that we have to deal with. The first is stopping the massive spending spree in Washington, which imperils our future. The second is to get the economy going again. If you want employers to invest in their businesses and in the economy, you’ve got to take away the uncertainty. At the top of that list of uncertainty is Obamacare. It is a job killer because it creates a lot of uncertainty and clearly a lot of additional costs to employers. You’ll see the House move next week to repeal Obamacare. You’ll see us move in the coming months to replace it with commonsense reforms that bring down the cost of health care.
FE: If you weren’t Speaker of the House, or a member of Congress, what would you be doing?
JB: I thought about that the other day. If I hadn’t come here and done this, what would I be doing? Would I still be running my business? My business would have had to go through several iterations to still be in business, so I don’t really know what I would have been doing. I got some advice once from someone who said, ‘Put a legal pad in your desk drawer, and every time you get some crazy idea about what you’ll do after you leave here, write it down.’ And so I’ve done it over 20 years, and I’ve got a page full of really bizarre ideas. It’s an exercise in pushing the blinders back and thinking outside the box.
FE: What’s the craziest thing on the list?
JB: Being commissioner of the PGA Tour.