tv John Boehner Speaks at City Club of Cleveland CSPAN January 2, 2017 12:58pm-1:56pm EST
>> tonight on the communicators, carnegie mellon university professor and co-author of the book streaming, sharing, stealing will discuss the -- and of data on the its impact on the entertainment industry. access to this detailed user information, and having the skills and thatngness to use the data you think it would provide them with an advantage. you can see they are really investing and outgrowing.
you can watch the communicators tonight on c-span and c-span2 at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. >> tonight on c-span, we hear from vehicle technology experts and government consultants about the latest technology and the future of transportation. >> so, today 90% of the accidents that happen on our roadways are due to human error -- distracted driving, drunk driving. if we, in theory, eliminate humans from the driving equation, then we eliminate 90% of the accidents. that in itself is huge. i mentioned also enhanced mobility for the elderly and disabled. that is also exciting. another part is rethinking power rethinking our land use.
if we have more of a shared use society where people are not purchasing as many vehicles that sharing them, then we can potentially reduce the land used for parking. in cities, that can be try to reimagine san francisco's streets without that dedicated land. you can see the potential for adding like lanes, adding a pedestrian space. that is my utopian perspective. >> you can watch the rest of that discussion tonight at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. the new congress starts tuesday. watch all of the opening events on c-span. we are alive of the u.s. s 7:00 a.m. eastern. you will hear from returning members.
gavels in at noon. it includes the election of the house speaker, his address, and later a debate and vote on rules for the new congress. one rule in particular is getting attention, a proposal to find members who live stream video from the house floor. it is in response to the democratic city and that was streamed by several democrats. on c-span2, our live coverage of the senate begins at noon eastern and includes the swearing-in of senators. opening day continues on c-span3 with a ceremonial swearing-in of members of congress at 1:00 p.m. eastern. vice president joe biden sweat -- presides over the swearing-in of individual senators. and speaker paul ryan swears in members of the house. we will have our replay of opening day on c-span and c-span2. >> up next, john boehner discusses the trump presidency.
he also looks back at his working relationship with president obama and members of congress. this is about an hour. [bell rings] fred: ladies and gentlemen, i would like to welcome you to the richard w. and patricia r. pogue endowed forum, where, today, we have the great honor of having the speaker john boehner here to address us. [applause] fred: my name is fred nance. i'm the global partner of u.s. finance llp. i'm going to share with you that, of course i have prepared extensive biographical administration, which the speaker obviously more than
warrants. but the speaker said, "fred, don't do that." [laughter] i'm going to give you the much abridged version. there is bio information in the pamphlets on everybody's table. let me simply jump forward and say that when john boehner became the top republican leader in the house for nearly a decade, he eventually became the speaker at a time that was obviously very challenging, very difficult for our country, and his laserlike focus on economic development, removing the impediments between business and government for creation of jobs, and focusing on the reduction of our debt were things that were priorities for our country, but it was his interpersonal skillset, his ability to reach across the aisle, to try to bridge the divisions both within
the party as well as across the aisle that led to the success and the leadership that we are very grateful to have had and are looking forward to, going forward. i would like you to know that he has a special place in our firm. he joined us as a special advisor based upon his extensive experience. we are very happy to have him. indeed, the firm has been privileged to have him. the city club is privileged to have him. and i daresay america has been very privileged to have john boehner as our leader as the third most powerful person in our government for years. and today, he will share his
comments on the future of our political system, in case there happens to be any question about that these days. [laughter] ladies and gentlemen, i give you the retired speaker of the house of representatives, john boehner. [applause] mr. boehner: where do i begin? big thanks, fred, for your short introduction. i think you did a very nice job without getting too carried away. thank you to the city club for the opportunity to be with all of you today. i especially want to thank the host. dick has been a longtime friend, supporter, and i did not know this was your luncheon. but thank you for having me
here. i was here six years ago, right before i became speaker. i came at your invitation to an economic speech, where i called on the president to fire his economic team. they did not like that. they savaged me afterwards. but i think i was right. but here it is, six years later, no longer the stick of the house after spending some 25 years in the congress. as i told the students at notre dame -- notre dame gave vice president biden and i the laetare award. i told the students, you know "laetare" is a latin word. in english, it means "rejoice." exactly what i have done every day since i left. [laughter] mr. boehner: people stop me and think i'm going to go back into the government. i had a cab driver wondering if i was running for the senate next year. i was like oh, no, no. [laughter] i'm supposed to talk about the future of politics. i thought about this and thought
wait a minute, i am no expert on politics. i have never even taken a political science class. on top of that, i'm the son of a bartender, what the hell do i know about politics? for those of you who do not know much about me, i grew up in cincinnati. i have eight brothers and three sisters, and my dad owned a bar. and i tell people there are a lot of lessons i learned growing up that were lessons that really helped me do my job. i grew up in a big family, learned to get along together, get things done together as a family. you grow up in a bar, learned a couple lessons there. one was being able to disagree without being disagreeable. something that probably help me with my political career than anything else. if you run a bar, or a bartender, you can disagree with somebody, but you are going to have to put up with them all night long. so you want to be nice about it. i think the best lesson i ever learned growing up in a bar, where i mopped floors, waited
tables, tended bars, is you have to learn to deal with every jackass who walks through that door. trust me, i needed all of the skills i learned growing up to do my job. but i never thought in my wildest dreams i would ever get involved in politics. like a lot of you, i worked my way through school. went to moeller high school. what with my eight brothers. played football for jerry faust. ignatius boy. worked my way through xavier university, found myself in a small business that i bought. i grew it into a successful business. along the way, i got involved in my neighborhood homeowners association and ended up as speaker of the house. [laughter] mr. boehner: this, too, can happen to you.
honestly, i never in my wildest dreams ever thought i would do anything like this, but i was kind of made to do what i ended up doing throughout my career. and i am very happy about it. what a political year we have had. well no, i knew there was something i forgot. i want to congratulate cleveland on the biggest year you have had in a long time. [applause] mr. boehner: i thought cleveland had a great year when johnny manziel signed up and when lebron james is coming home and there was this announcement that the rnc was coming to cleveland. that was a big year.
but winning the nba championship, then going to the world series, and then hosting the finest republican convention i have ever attended -- i tell you what. everyone i talked to around the country after the convention had been here could not have said nice things about cleveland. how nice it was, how nice everybody was, how safe it was, and none of that nonsense that people talked about, none of that ever really happened. so congratulations on a really good year. and i am sure donald trump is going to be pretty happy. he had a pretty good year as well. now, something is going on around the world. it is not just here in the united states, where a guy named bernie sanders, a man who was elected for the first time when i was elected for the first time in 1990. and he was a socialist from vermont and came to washington,
old liberal curmudgeon guy walking around. trust me, the most shocked people in america are all of us who serve with bernie over the last 25 years. because bernie did not talk to anybody. walking around. now, he might have been the most honest guy, though, running for president. because he actually believes all that crazy stuff he says. [laughter] but you can't help but love bernie. and then donald trump, really. he is a friend of mine, we had played golf over the years, but i never really thought donald trump was the kind of guy that ought to be president of the united states. matter of fact, in a conversation i had with him in spring, he says "hey, can you believe this?" i said, "no." he says "no, i can't either." but it is not just here the united states. you watched the brexit vote that went on earlier this year in great britain. you watch what is going on in france, in germany, a look back to the arab spring. there is something going on in the world. and i kind of would boil it down into 2 points and a subpoint. you have eight years of very slow to know economic growth. as a result, middle-class -- the middle class and their standard of living here have really fallen. not just here, but around the world. so you have a lot of frustration that americans are not doing as well as they would like to be doing. and the kind of job migration we used to see in our society is
kind of disappearing. and after eight years of your income sliding, your standard of living sliding, you can imagine that people are frustrated. and it's not just here. i think it is elsewhere around the world as well. secondly, look at how the media has changed. how we get information. just go back a couple of decades. a couple decades ago, we had one radio talk show host in america that no one ever heard of. we had one cable news channel that just did news. we had an internet, but only a couple of geeks in palo alto, california were using it. now here we are today, with hundreds and hundreds of radio talk show hosts spewing out all
kinds of noise. look at all these cable news channels. nothing but politics 24 hours a day. you have an internet that allows people to talk to each other, to organize themselves. platforms that people never had before. and then you have facebook, youtube, twitter, linkedin, a whole long list of other places that spew information. it is just intense. and if you think about it -- we would never have known about a policeman being shot in dallas, texas, 30 years ago.
because it would not have been in our papers. it probably would not have been on the national news. and so, now we know everything that happens in america, we know everything that happens all around the world, every day. and when you look at all this information coming at all of us, you realize that the people are probably getting 100, maybe 200 times more information about their government than they have ever gotten. certainly more than 20 years ago. now what makes it even crazier is that people get to choose where they want to get their news. it used to be we had three big tv networks, five big newspapers, and a couple big radio stations. and they pretty well set what the news was going to be for that day. now, you have all this information coming at you, so people get to choose.
some want to go to buzzfeed, some want to go to fox news. i asked an early 30-year-old this fall, "where do you get your news?" he said, "oh, comedy central." [laughter] mr. boehner: now, that thought ought to scare people. we have all of this information, and what i said before, it allows people to organize themselves. i knew a few knuckleheads in washington. they were on the republican side. we had a few members who were off the reservation. they never had any kind of platform. the media kind of ignored them. now today, they can create their own platform and grow their own movement. frankly, much like donald trump created his own movement, or bernie sanders created his own movement. but what makes it even more dangerous, more difficult, is that the speed at which people get the news today is instantaneous. you know, i remember a time when i was serving in the state legislator with pat sweeney. sitting over there.
thankfully, you don't look any uglier than you did then. [laughter] mr. boehner: that's just me being me, sorry. but you know, back then, sweeney and i, we could work something out, cut some deals. and it would be a day or two before it would end up in the press somewhere. not these days. i remember, when i have to go meet with president obama, and i had to organize a way to sneak to the white house, because if i walked into the white house like i would normally do, the right wing press would just go nuts. "oh, what's he up to, he's going to sell us out." frankly, the left wing press would go after president obama. "oh my god, he is meeting with boehner. boehner's going to roll him." all of a sudden, you have no room to maneuver. when you add all of this together, you can kind of begin to understand that we are in the midst of a political revolution. and in the midst of a political revolution, trying to govern is next to impossible. and it is going to make it more difficult, i think, in the coming days and years, for the people in public service to actually be able to govern and do what we really expect them to do. well, we had a big election this year as well. and back in the spring, i would talk about the candidates who were running on both sides. i mean, it was pretty clear to me that hillary was going to be the democratic nominee.
you know, i was not -- i told donald trump after i said i would vote for him, i said you know, you are not my first choice. matter of fact, you are not my second choice or third choice. but you are the nominee, so i will vote for you. i told people back in the spring, listen, anybody that doesn't think donald trump can't win, you are wrong. he can win. people would ask me, "could donald trump win ohio?" i said, "of course, donald trump could win ohio. in fact, i will predict donald trump would win ohio." you look at where the demographics in ohio are, the top third of the state. toledo, akron, cleveland, youngstown, those are the most democratic areas in the state. if you look at the people donald trump was appealing to, they live right here in the top one third of ohio. and what trump was able to do was get their votes, frankly, early on.
all of those retired auto workers, all of the rest of the union guys and gals who are up here. but where he actually won the election was in the fall, in october, when republicans started to actually come home. over the phone, i did a lot of public speeches, made it clear that i thought here he was going to win. i thought it was a 60-40 chance she was going to win. but i said remember this -- polls do not decide elections. voters do. and while pollsters, they think they can model who is going to show up, it is just their best guess who is going to show up. i used an example that i have used many times that polls don't decide elections, voters do. my first race for congress, i was in a race with an incumbent republican in a primary, and a former republican member in a republican primary. it is hard for people to vote for somebody when they can't say your name.
you know, my name looks like "bean-her," "bond-her." but i was running against this former member, his name is tom kindness. i never had a poll showing me within 80 points of winning. but we turned out people who would not normally vote in republican primaries. i had 500 volunteers, each got 10 of their neighbors, who happened to be independence, out to vote for me in a republican primary. i won by 5000 votes. nobody was more surprised -- i thought i was going to win, but i am eternal optimist. but my poor opponent must have been completely shocked, because there is no way you could lose when you are up 82 points. but when you look at this
election, once again, i told audiences this fall, look at the enthusiasm gap. how enthused are you about your candidate? trump led the whole fall. you go back to the spring. the turnout in the republican primaries was up 40%. turnout in the democratic primaries was down 20%. and so, it really should not surprise a lot of people that he actually did have a chance. well, he won. now what? you know, something has happened in washington -- i don't know -- over the last 5, 6, 7 years, where it was almost impossible for me to do a deal. and when i talk about doing a deal, i talk about coming to an agreement with the president on doing what we both think is in the right interest of the american people. and people would just have their pitchforks out for me, and for the president, because we were able to come to an agreement once in a while.
and i've just got to tell you, i just think it is wrong. now, we've got a guy who is got a book called "the art of the deal." and donald trump is going to do anything he has to deliver. people would ask me, well, with what advice would you give each of these candidates, depending on who wins? i said i would give each of these candidates the same advice. and that is presidents don't have much power to do things on their own. if you really want to get big things done, you have to find a way to work with the other side. you need to find a way to work with congress to change the laws to make real changes. and to do that, you have to have honest relationships with both sides of the aisle, and the leaders in the congress. if you do that, there are a lot of, frankly, big things that can happen. i always thought it was very important, when i became the speaker, that i had good relationships with my colleagues, my other leaders. and, frankly, for that matter, the president. now, you know the president and i've butted heads a few times. but the president and i learned to get along with each other.
learn to get things done together. not that we always agreed, because our job was not to agree. our job was what can we agree on? i did not expect him to change his principles, and i don't think he expected me to change my principles or to compromise my principles or his. but the american people elected him president, they elected a republican congress. and our job, on behalf of the country, was to find the common ground. where is it? and so, finding a way to cut a deal is critically important if we are going to be successful in america.
and, frankly, like to think donald trump has the opportunity to do that. you know, he is kind of a democrat. he is kind of a republican. he has no ideology. he has nothing that is going to bind him from cutting a deal. but he has to cut the right deals. when you look at congress, you know congress is a committee of 535 people. anyone ever see a committee of 535 people get anything done? except the american people expect great things out of that congress. this is why the leaders have to be able to look each other in the eye, trust each other in order to get things done. when i announced i was going to retire, i got more than a few phone calls. but the first phone call came from one of my dear friends, george w. bush. i can't tell you what he said, nor what i said to him. the second call came from president obama. "boehner, you can't do this, we have to get this done. we have to get a debt deal, we
have to do something about the debt limit" -- he was going on and on. finally, the president says "hey, boehner. man, i am going to miss you." and i said, "mr. president, yes, you are." [laughter] mr. boehner: you know, we knew each other, we understood each other, and we could talk to each other. we had lots of disagreements. but remember i told you earlier, one of the lessons i learned growing up in a bar -- the art of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. you know, there are a lot of people i used to have to work with. nancy pelosi, harry reid, wait until i write my book. you get to read about a lot of these people. you know, over the years i spent in washington, i have to say this. 95%, 98% of the people i worked with, on both sides of the aisle, are the most decent, honest people you could ever find.
fighting for what they thought was right for their constituents in the country. and just because you are a democrat or republican does not mean the other side should excoriate you because of your view. you have a right to your view, i have a right to my view. the president has an opportunity to reach out and work with congress. there are big things he can get done. i think tax reform will be hot on the congress' agenda. i think immigration reform will not go away, and it has to be dealt with. i think infrastructure is probably one of the first things that will happen. we have huge infrastructure needs, and we have no way to pay for it. all infrastructure is paid for with the gas tax. but all of our cars are getting more miles to the gallon. the gas tax revenue continues to drop year after year after year, and they will continue to drop.
we have to find a new source of funding for infrastructure. but in the meantime, dealing with the fact that there are $2.5 trillion of u.s. corporate taxes sitting overseas that will not come back because we have excessively high taxes, i can see a deal being cut where money will flow back here at a lower rate. fixing the system so we do not have to deal with that long-term. and they will find an economic analysis that says this will produce $100 billion or $500 billion in new revenues and then use that money to fund a longer-term infrastructure program. it would be a great way to get started. i think there would be great bipartisan support for a plan like this. you know, donald trump sees himself as larger-than-life. as you might imagine. you know, kind of reminds me of looking at a teddy roosevelt. you know, teddy roosevelt, this guy was a lot like donald trump. larger-than-life. when teddy roosevelt became president, teddy roosevelt wanted to do big things. and frankly, he did big things. i think there is an opportunity in this new political order to do big things. but big things only get done on
a bipartisan basis. i went round and round with the president over this in 2011, when i became speaker. if you go back and look historically, big things get done when both parties have their fingerprints on the deal. so, i think he has that opportunity. listen -- it is going to be an exciting year. if you thought this past year with exciting, just watch what happens over the next 12 months. but just remember this. we live in the greatest country in the world. a country that there is no limits on what you can accomplish. and the only country in the world where you can be the son of a bartender and grow up and be the speaker of the house. god bless all of you for being here today. thank you. [applause] fred: thank you, mr. speaker. today, we are enjoying a friday forum with john boehner, 53rd speaker of the united states house of representatives. we're about to begin the q&a session with the audience. we welcome questions from everyone. city club members, guests, students, and those of you joining us with the live radio
broadcast, webcast, or the live simulcast at the cuyahoga county library. if you'd like to tweet a question, please tweet @thecityclub, and our staff will try to work it into the program. i want to remind you that your questions should be brief and to the points, and not statements please. holding the microphones today are content coordinator terry eisenberg and director of program, stephanie jansky. may we have the first question please?
>> speaker boehner, i would like to ask you a question that was very prominent in the campaign. and that is the issue of trade. here in ohio, with we have people who have suffered because of the trade arrangements. but we also have many people and companies who have prospered. how do you see that situation working out this year? mr. boehner: it is difficult to rearrange a trade agreement. presidents talk about it, but it is difficult to do. in the case of nafta though, nafta is now 20 plus years old. it is probably time for all of the countries involved in nafta to take another look at it. personally, i am on the other side of this issue.
trade has been great for america. frankly, trade has been very good to ohio. yes, there are job dislocations when you have trade. but when you look at it on the whole, in my view, it has been very beneficial to the united states, and, i would argue, very beneficial to ohio. but it does not mean it should not be reviewed from time-to-time. the second point i would make is this. is that enforcement of these trade laws is critically important. and i'm not sure we have used the resources we have to enforce the trade laws we have already agreed to. i do think the transpacific partnership is overdone, dead. it was overdone, dead a year ago. in my view. because four or five provisions decided at the end of the negotiations could never pass
muster in the congress. there probably aren't 10 votes in congress for the transpacific partnership trade deal. i think this u.s.-european conversation is pretty much at a standstill, but i do think there is one open on the trade front. and that is a u.s.-great britain trade agreements. while they are exiting the european union, they are not part of an e.u. trade agreement. so they will have to make their own trade agreement and i think as our closest ally, as our closest friends, i think discussion between the u.s. and britain on a free trade agreement would be in both of our country's best interests and, frankly, would be very helpful to the brits as a negotiate their exit from the european union. >> mr. speaker, great to have you here today. i address the issue of a $19.6 trillion debt. and climbing. what if the new president and his new secretary of treasury and the senate leadership and
mcconnell and speaker ryan and ms. pelosi, all of you together, and said to you, what would your recommendations as how we finally and effectively address the debt before it gets worse? mr. boehner: well, we have spent more than we have brought in as a country for 50 of the last 65 years. i will say this again in case you thought i said it wrong. we have spent more than what we brought in for 60 of the last 65 years. you can't do it at home, in your business, and the government cannot do it either. the president and i were on the verge of the grand bargain in july of 2011. we stood in the oval office, the president and i and eric cantor shook hands on a debt reduction deal that was over $5 trillion the first 10 years.
over 25 years, it might have been in the $20 trillion to $25 trillion range. because of the changes we're talking about. frankly, my greatest disappointment my years in politics was when that deal fell apart. but you have got big drivers of the debt. baby boomers are retiring at record rates. they are living longer than anybody ever expected we would live. taking up more social security, more medicare, more medicaid. those programs are not sustainable in their current form. and, we're not talking about
massive changes. we're talking about tweaks to put these programs that are essential to the american people, critical to the american people, a firmer foundation. until that happens, frankly, there is no chance that you are going to reverse the deficit spending that we continue to do. secondly, you are never going to solve this problem without real economic growth that allows the economy to grow, that allows better jobs to be created. allows the american people to earn more, and, frankly, as they earn more, pay more in taxes. if you don't have economic growth growing economy and controls on spending, you just
cannot get there. we were there in the late 1990's. we had a balanced-budget deal with president clinton. what happened? five years of a surplus. five straight years, surplus was about $600 billion over those five years. what happened? spending only grow at about the rate of inflation. revenue was growing at 4% or 5% above the rate of inflation. so you have more income coming in, holding the line on spending. and the result was we had a surplus. you can do it, but it is going to be tough to do. members do not want to vote to make changes for social security, medicare, or medicaid. they just do not want to do it. even some of the most conservative members who want to talk about balancing the budget, if they actually have to vote on the specifics, they would be shriveling like a flower on a sun-parched sidewalk somewhere in august. so, don't hold your breath. >> mr. speaker, in a remarkable act of diplomacy, the pope accepted your invitation to address the joint session of congress, but not too long after, there was also a memorable situation where a campaign nominee, trump, took on the pope in a back-and-forth conversation. that made me wonder, does he need to repair a relationship there and, if so, how? mr. boehner: no, i think pope francis will forgive him. [laughter] [applause] mr. boehner: i have to tell you -- you might have guessed i grew up catholic. went to catholic grade school, catholic high school, catholic university. i was an altar boy growing up.
and i go to congress, and we have some world leaders who come and address the joint session of congress, the house and senate. 1995, when we had a new pope, i sent him a letter and asked him if he would come and address the joint session of congress. i was junior member of the republican leadership. we were a brand-new majority. of course, i heard nothing, heard nothing. so the next pope comes along, i invite him to come. it did not happen. so when pope francis got elevated, i sent him a letter. luckily for me, one of his close allies in the united states was the archbishop of washington. so the cardinal was trying to convince him to come to the u.s., and the pope said no, i am going here and here and here. but he said, i got this letter from your parliament, and he said i am somewhat intrigued by this. and the cardinal said, well, holy father, it was written by john boehner. he is the speaker of the house. he is really involved in helping kids in d.c. get an education. i have a number of programs i'm involved with in washington, d.c., helping kids of all stripes get an education. and the pope says, all right.
i will come. so the cardinal runs out of the room, calls me, and says, boehner, you cannot tell anyone, but he is coming, he is coming. so he comes, and it turns out, at the same time this meeting happens, my daughter tells me she is pregnant with my first grandchild. so, the cardinal and others began to work the vatican over to try to get the pope to baptize my grandson while he is here. and so, you might guess -- you might not know this or think about this, but the vatican has this 200 year head start on bureaucracy over the united states. they are really good at this. so after months of conversation, they finally came to me and said, listen. the pope will be happy to bless your grandson, but we really don't want to do a baptism. all right, fine. so we get to september 24, 2015. the pope comes. it is a big deal. i have every camera in the world in my office. i greet the pope. we finally get all of the media out of the room. and my chief of staff have been to be catholic as well, and here are seven cardinals and a pope. i looked at my chief of staff and said, what are we doing here? [laughter] mr. boehner: so then i had a nice meeting with the pope. and the meeting begins to break up.
but my family was in the adjoining room. they start to come in, and the pope and i get up, and the pope all of a sudden turns to his assistant and says, get me a glass of water. no, really? so i watch his assistant go get a glass of water, bring it back. the pope takes in his right hand, puts it into his left hand, and i am waiting for him to bless it. and he just took a drink. [laughter] the greatest fake out you have ever seen in your life. [laughter] i was absolutely convinced he was going to baptize him right then and there. having the pope there was -- i guess i have to say it was the most memorable experience of the 25 years i was in the congress. i have never seen members of the house or senate, democrat or republican, more excited to have someone of the capital than the pope. i have a lot of pope stories. a lot of things happen that day. but unbeknownst to me, the next morning, i decide i will retire. you can google "boehner holy spirit" and get the rest of that story.
>> mr. speaker, thanks for being here. i am a little sheepish asking this session following that story. but you were gracious regarding the president. but i recall your comment about the budget deal in 2011 that fell apart. there was an interesting exposition the "new york times" the following spring that got into the inner workings of the back-and-forth of that. putting aside the substance of that, i was fascinated by how the deal fell apart kind of in violation of classic rules of negotiating, where you keep your counsel, you kind of keep things to yourself before things were done.
you seemed beyond frustrated with that in that expose. i am wondering, with the benefit of the years that passed, can you tell us more about that, and more importantly, is there a lesson to be learned from that for the people that need to cut the next deal? mr. boehner: well, frustrated does not even begin to explain how i felt about the deal falling apart. i had spent six months with the president, trying to work through this, and trying to work through these numbers. and my staff came to me about a month, sometime in july of 2014, and my staff sat me down and i thought, what did i do wrong. in the looked at me, and they said, listen, you are about to risk your job if you continue having your conversation with the president. i said, listen. if i can get this deal done and begin the process of getting america back on a more sound financial foundation, so be it. but bob woodward, former "washington post" writer, writes a lot of books. he writes a lot of washington books.
and he wrote a book about this. it is 98% correct, in my view. all of the facts were there. but, you know, my world, when you shake hands and cut a deal, it is a deal. you may regret it later, but if you shake hands on a deal, it is a deal. i was floored when the president decided to walk away from it. and let's put it this way. i do not think the president was well-served by his own staff.
i will just say it that way. >> welcome to cleveland. is there something hillary clinton could've done that would have changed the outcome of the election? mr. boehner: i don't think so. you know, donald trump ran against 16 people in the republican primary. and, you know, 12 or 13 of them were good opponents. i won't talk about the others. [laughter] mr. boehner: it ran away with him. donald trump had a better understanding of what was going through the minds of the american people -- a majority of the american people than anybody else. bernie created a movement, for god's sakes. all right? and he was frankly closer to where donald trump was in terms of understanding the frustration people were feeling, more so than hillary was. >> you ended by talking about how great america is, yet we have a president-elect that got elected largely by talking about how great america is not anymore
and promising a lot of things that may or may not be able to be done. so, how accountable is he going to be and who, whether it is congress or the media or voters, who will hold him accountable? mr. boehner: well, this is donald trump. he said a lot of things in the campaign. the next day he would say the exact opposite. so, the president-elect is going to be the president-elect. and, you know, the media will probably point out these things
when he changes his mind about immigration or a few other things, which i would expect. but, his voters do not really care. that is the amazing part. they don't really care. so, we are in -- when it comes to this trump administration, i would urge all of you to do this. do not pay any attention to what he says. just watch what gets done. i tell people all the time, if you see a politician who looks good, they are probably not telling you the right thing, all right? so don't listen to what they say, watch what they do. because it is what they do that really matters, and i am going
to tell you right now, donald trump is going to surprise you and a lot of other americans. listen, this guy was never in politics. does not take long -- it does not take long being in politics to realize it is not good to have people angry with you, upset with you, or afraid of you. so my guess is that trump will move quickly to calm people's nerves. i predict right now, he will be the immigrant's best friend. just watch. can we get to the next question, please? [laughter] >> some of us will be first-time voters. how will congress make college affordable? mr. boehner: congress can't make college more affordable because they do not control the prices
that universities charge. this problem is so far out of control, i would not even know where to begin. right now there is $1.2 trillion worth of student loan debt. over the next year, i saw a report this morning from the government accountability office, is that we are about to lose $208 billion of that which will be written off because it cannot be repaid. so, something needs to happen to the student loan debt already out there. do think that we're going to -- to think that we're going to allow it to get bigger is
probably not going to happen. i think colleges and universities have a responsibility in terms of what they charge. in terms of how they are running their organizations. and what you are going to see, longer-term, more online schools that, frankly, do a very good job without all of the brick and mortar and the expense. you will see more and more of that going on around the university systems already. i think, frankly, you will see a lot more of it.
i don't think there is a whole lot congress can do to help college more affordable. politicians will tell you they can but i do not know that that is the truth. >> speaker boehner, your remarks today were very insightful, but the question i have is, we have in this election, the minor political parties received record numbers of votes. is that more a reflection on the candidates from the major parties or is that a change will see going forward and potentially the democrats and republicans offer each one a set of views on the issues whereas, you know, these minor parties offer a different set of views? mr. boehner: i think the
third-party candidates that ran, they mostly get protest votes. if you look back over the summer when people were upset with both candidates, their numbers were pretty high, and as the fall went on, their numbers continued to dwindle until election day when they did not get much of the vote at all. we are fortunate in the united states, in my view, to essentially have a two-party system. if you look around europe, they have 5, 10, sometimes 12 political parties. not one political party could ever get a majority.
so they have to compromise who they are to form a government with some other parties. and by the time they come to an agreement with two other parties of former government, they have -- they believe in nothing and do nothing. we are fortunate that we essentially have a two-party system. now, within those parties, i can go through all of the divisions in the democrat party or all the divisions within the republican party, we'll get lumped in there, but it works better here than, friendly, it works anywhere else. but i do not see any decline in the two-party system as long as it is open and transparent. you know, they start to play a lot of games, you could see the rise of a third party. but not anytime soon. >> hello. mr. boehner: hello, i like your hair cut. >> thank you, i like yours, too. [applause] mr. boehner: thank you. >> was a lot of pressure you felt as speaker of the house? mr. boehner: no, i gave up pressure about 20 years ago. all of that stress and pressure
does nothing for you except kill you. it does not help you make better decisions. and so, no. i just decided i was not going to do it anymore. i flipped a switch and i didn't. you know, there was more pressure standing up here today giving a speech than i've had in the last five years. because i've not been a lot of these for a while. and, no, i just -- it is not good. it gets in the way of making a good decision. i used to watch some of my colleagues in leadership and some of my staff running around like chickens with their heads cut off when things were falling apart, but it was easy for me to just sit there and say prayer and not worry about it. >> hello. can you speak to the rise of the alt-right within the republican party on can you speak to the cabinet the president-elect is putting together? mr. boehner: i am not sure what you're speaking about when you say the alt-right. >> the white supremacists. mr. boehner: i don't think they are part of the party. they may have voted in this election like a lot of people, but i don't know. i thought you were talking about some of the neck will used to work with. [laughter] mr. boehner: i better stop myself right there. the second question was about the cabinet. i think so far the president-elect has made some good choices. and, i expect they will continue to make good choices. this is not going to be anything like anything we have seen before, all right? we have not seen anything like this election in our lifetimes and we are not going to see anything in this coming year like we've seen before. but you're going to see trump stick more to the teleprompters of the is less like himself. and, you know, the choices he is making is, you know, there are some patterns and a reason why these people are being selected. so, you know, he is not going to be milquetoast. he is picking people who can carry out the kind of administration he wants to have. remember, he is going to do think things in my view. or attempt to.
[laughter] >> i am a little bit -- [laughter] >> mr. boehner, if there's one thing you could do over in your political career, what would it be? mr. boehner: you know, i can tell you i have not one regret. i decided early in my political career, i was a township trustee and i thought, 20 years from now people are not going to care how how i voted other than me. so i made a commitment to myself that i never violated my entire 35 years in public office, and that was, at the end of the day i was going to vote in such a way that i believed was right for my constituents or my country, or both. there is not one vote in my entire political career i would do over. there were probably five or 10 votes over those years that i could go on this where that way, but i finally made a decision and look, after all of those votes, five or 10 was the maximum number i ever had a problem either way on. but i made that decision and i have to tell you, looking back, it was one of the best decisions i ever made because i am the one who had to live with the votes that i cast. and i wanted to be able to look at myself in the mirror the morning and say, you did what you thought was right. not what you thought was politically correct or would get more votes. and frankly, there is not enough
of that today in terms of doing the right things for the right reasons. it is not rocket science. >> how are you doing, speaker boehner? mr. boehner: good. i am doing real good because this is almost over. [laughter] >> the 113th and 114th congresses are some of the most polarized i can remember. what did you do personally to combat bad and what can the new congress due to combat the cultural and political polarization that is affecting the country? mr. boehner: i and that -- fellow republicans believed in something different. finding common ground was not easy. secondly, when i did try to find common ground, people did not want me to cut any deals. any deal i cut with the president was bad. it was bizarre. but that is what people thought. and he was under the same heat from the last. -- from the left. one of the great things about this election is that that has all gone away. we have donald trump. you know, tim ryan from youngstown, donald trump won his district. so here is tim ryan going, oh, gee, you know, i am a democrat and i am going to do x, but then there are people who voted for
donald trump in the district. right wing republicans, i am being kind here, you know, who, they don't want to do anything because unless it is perfect whatever perfectness, they are not for it. all of a sudden they're looking up, they got a bunch of these trump people in a majority of their district. so if donald trump is for it, they are going to have a hard time being against it. and we do not have a president that has any ideology. left wing, right wing, there is not. so when i tell you to get ready for a ride, this is going to be a ride. all of the rules we have seen, you know, ground rules that sweeney and i had for many years, those are all gone. so get ready. your seatbelt on, it is going to be a wild ride. [applause] >> that brings us to the end of today's forum. thank you mr. boehner, thank you ladies and gentlemen.