Former Speaker John Boehner blames recent shutdown on ‘goofballs on the right’

Former House Speaker John Boehner praised President Donald Trump for his work on the 2107 tax bill and trade relations with China, but blamed a recent 35-day partial government shutdown on “the goofballs on the right.”

Speaking to the Caxambas Republican Club on Marco Island, Florida, Monday night, the West Chester Republican, who retired from Congress in 2015, said the shutdown occurred after the right-wing of the party urged Trump to go for broke for $5.7 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“The knuckleheads in Congress that listen to these guys start blowing in the president’s ear,” Boehner said, in comments reported by the Naples Daily News. “All of sudden, the president calls (former House Speaker) Paul Ryan and (current House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and says, ‘I want $5 billion or nothing,’

Boehner has previously criticized the far right of his party, a group that includes U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, a founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Jordan and political ally Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, encouraged Trump to draw a hard line on the money for the border wall.

But Boehner said listening to the group was a bad idea.

“When I was looking for legislative strategy, the last place I looked was talk radio,” Boehner said, as quoted in the Naples Daily News. “The second last place I looked was the knucklehead caucus, who don’t know how to vote yes on anything. They did the president a total disservice.”

He has experience in shutdowns: In 2013, the right flank of his party, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, shut down the government over President Barack Obama’s 2011 health care law.

Boehner said Trump “has a different style than I do,” but praised him, saying “Donald Trump, in my view, by and large, has done the right things.”

He said Trump scored a victory with the 2017 tax bill, which cut corporate tax rates and nearly doubled the standard deduction. He praised Trump for not meddling too much in Congress’ work.

“He was smart enough to stay the hell out of the way,” Boehner said.

Similarly, he praised Trump for cracking down on China’s unfair trade practices, saying, “this is a fight that needs to happen.”

Still, he acknowledged Trump’s style was different than his.

“I always thought you caught more bees with honey than you do with vinegar,” he said.

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