A jovial former Speaker of the House John Boehner took the stage at the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Naples, Florida, and spoke candidly with CME Group Chairman and CEO Terry Duffy about his time in Congress, the ongoing “political revolution,” and what to look forward to in the adminsitration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Boehner began his remarks with a few lighthearted stories, but when the talk turned more analytical, Boehner reminded the audience of one of his favorite refrains: “Polls don’t decide elections, voters do.”
Boehner said the US election and Brexit represent a “political revolution” that is sweeping the world. Boehner noted France and Germany might be the next to experience the impact of such a revolution in the polling booth.
Boehner acknoledged the mammoth task that lies ahead for President-elect Donald Trump and drew laughs by declaring, “Trump doesn’t need this job. He probably regrets running. He is the proverbial dog that caught the car.”
When Duffy asked what the incoming president can do to mend the divide in the United States after the nastiest campaign in over 100 years, Boehner wowed the audience with the prognostication that “Donald Trump will do everything he can to quell the fear in America. I wouldn't be surprised if President Trump ends up being immigrants' best friend.”.
Boehner applauded Trump decision to name Reince Preibus as his cheif of staff. In looking to find a large bill that could receive bipartisan support early in a Trump administration, the former Speaker said it could be an infrastructure bill. However, Boehner noted that national infrastructure is often paid for through gasoline taxes, but gas tax revenues will only decline as cars get better mileage. Boehner also recommended Congress include increasing the debt limit in the same infrastructure bill in order to get both passed and limiting debate on raising the ceiling.
When asked what words of advice he would offer Trump, Boehner recommended developing a close relationship with Congress as presidents can see their greatest agenda items scuttled if they don't have a collaborative relationship with Capitol Hill.
Continuing the political line of questioning, Duffy asked what can be done to restore faith in America's politicians. Boehner pointedly said, “Stop tearing [Congress] down. 95% of the people who work in D.C. are good, decent, honest people who are trying to do the right thing for their constituents and our country.” Referencing Donald Trump’s claim he will “drain the swamp,” Boehner said, “it is political populism; it’s just not true.”