John Boehner wants cuts to Social Security and Medicare in next year's fiscal budget, even if voters may not like it, he tells the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “Most Americans don't have a clue” about “how big the problem is,” and it’s time for Washington to explain it, he says, noting that he would “lock arms” with President Obama to discuss the issue with voters. Obama has responded “positively” to the idea, Boehner adds. "Once they understand how big the problem is, I think people will be more receptive to what the possible solutions may be," says Boehner.
Less than a quarter of Americans back major cuts to the programs, a poll this week said. Meanwhile, the House speaker expresses firm support for raising the debt ceiling—a measure unpopular among conservative House Republicans. “If we were to fail to increase the debt limit, we would send our economy into a tailspin,” he says. As for the current budget battle, Boehner notes that he’s “optimistic” about cutting spending and avoiding a shutdown. “We can do this in two weeks. I'm a glass-half-full guy,” he says. Click through for more on Boehner's interview. (Read more John Boehner stories.)