Opinion: Columnists

Hugh Hewitt: What Speaker John Boehner should say at the Republican Party retreat

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Politics,Opinion,Hugh Hewitt,Columnists,Republican Party,John Boehner

Ghostwriting is supposed to be anonymous, so you won't know what I have penned for others over the years.

Here's the exception to the rule, since I wasn't asked to write it: John Boehner's brief address to the upcoming GOP House retreat.

"Thank you and thanks to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., for organizing this weekend. The freshman will find over the years that there are great retreats and retreats you wish you had skipped. Cathy has done a terrific job bringing us together with some great speakers.

"No slow start for us. We are in the middle of it. And I want to use these brief remarks to prepare us all for what is ahead.

"What we are going to get done, right now, in the next four weeks, is entitlement reform. You freshmen may not have anticipated that your first votes would be among your toughest and most significant, but they will be.

"Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are going to bring us a bill that ties the debt ceiling hike to entitlement reform. We are going to block-grant Medicaid to the states with a cap. We are going to chained CPI for Social Security. We are going to match Medicare eligibility with the rising Social Security retirement age and raise that age to 70 over a few years as well.

"These changes won't solve the whole problem, but they are a big start. We have to start and we are going to start now.

"We are going to put those changes into a bill with two trillion in new debt authority, and we are going to pass it. If you don't vote for this bill, we in the Conference are not going to support you. This is the real make-or-break time.

"After we send that to the Senate, Hal Rogers is going to bring up a bill for the balance of the year's spending. It is going to cut everything 5 percent, except defense, which we will cut 2.5 percent. We will show we are serious here and then we will get to work on tax reform and real top-to-bottom spending reform and immigration reform.

"Now here is the key message: We aren't going to blink. We will have these entitlement reforms or the government will shut down. We don't and won't have to default on our sovereign debt. The president knows this and even the media know it, though they will be irresponsible in their comments.

"But we will have to shut down the government if the president says no to entitlement reform. That is where we are headed and that is where we will go unless we get the changes the country desperately needs. We will keep it shut until the president does what we all know needs doing.

"No secret deals. No hidden tricks. Just the reality of what must happen.

"Straight talk now: We are going to get slammed by the media and not just the crazies at MSNBC. Some of our friends will say it isn't far enough, though it's pretty damn far. But mostly we will get slammed by the 10-million-dollar-a-year anchors who don't understand what is coming, by editorial writers who don't understand what a 'bond vigilante' is or who really don't care about the country's credit. They are ignorant and they are partisans, and we will hear a lot of harsh things from them.

"No matter. This is what we are going to do. No debt ceiling hike without these reasonable entitlement reforms. Feel free to leak that and say it again and again, for it is true.

"Enjoy the rest of the weekend and see you back in D.C. ready for this battle. It's an honor to be your leader."

Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.

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