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Former Speaker John Boehner: Deficit will be 'No. 1 issue' in six months

  • John Boehner warned that the normalization of interest rates would have a whipsaw effect on the deficit.
  • The former speaker supported GOP tax cuts and blamed a lack of entitlement reform for the expanding deficit.
  • He said failure to balance the budget had to be Paul Ryan's "biggest disappointment."

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner said that the U.S. government deficit would become the No. 1 political issue in about six months.

"As interest rates continue to get to a normal level, it's going to have a huge whipsaw effect on the deficit," Boehner told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

Boehner voiced support for the tax cuts but lamented President Donald Trump's decision to maintain spending on entitlements. "I have to believe it's Paul Ryan's biggest disappointment as speaker," he said. "Paul Ryan had a plan to balance the budget over 10 years."

When asked about how the retirement of current House Speaker Ryan might affect midterm elections, Boehner said, "I don't think it affects who is going to win or who is going to lose."

The former speaker predicted that the Senate would remain in Republican control but admitted that the House of Representatives was probably a toss-up.

Boehner appeared on the program to discuss his decision to join the board of directors at Acreage Holdings, an investment company focused on marijuana. The former Republican congressman said that his thinking on cannabis had evolved and called for the federal government to remove it from the list of Schedule I drugs.

Boehner vehemently denied using marijuana when asked. "No! Never. I've never used it — never, ever used it. I don't expect to," he said. "Cigarettes and red wine are my creatures of habit."