Boehner’s not the leader of House Republicans, he’s the spokesperson.
Talking Points Memo: If you feel like the inmates have taken over the asylum in the House of Representatives, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wants you to know that your suspicions are totally correct.
At his weekly Capitol briefing Thursday, Boehner faced questions about two aging and increasingly questionable elements of the GOP’s legislative strategy: repeated votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and continued efforts to extract partisan concessions from Democrats in exchange for increasing the debt ceiling.
In both cases, Boehner acknowledged that the conservative wing of the House is driving the agenda.
“We’ve got 17 new members that have not had the opportunity to vote on the President’s health care law,” Boehner said, referring to next week’s ACA repeal vote. “Frankly they’ve been asking for an opportunity to vote on it, and we’re going to give it to them.”
And the debt ceiling? Same basic story.
“Our conversations have begun,” he said. “We’re going to have a big conversation with our members next week to talk about a way forward — what do our members believe is necessary to allow them to vote yes on increasing the debt limit?”
It’s yet more evidence that the party’s national and legislative strategies are driven by rank and file conservatives, not party leadership.
Just yesterday I brought up a trend in punditry that held that Pres. Obama was supposedly the problem in Washington, because he isn’t “leading” Republicans. The idea is that Obama needs to grab up the secret White House Magic Wand and make extremist Republicans into reasonable moderates.
Something like that anyway. It’s not really clear on what he’s supposed to do specifically, because they never actually explain it. They just say “leadership” because they’re lazy and dumb and saying Republicans are the problem would just be “media bias” (which has come to be a synonym for “reality” these days).
Anyway, none of these deep thinkers ever accuses John Boehner of not practicing leadership, even though the case is much better in his case. Like Obama, Boehner can’t just wave a magic wand and suddenly get people to do everything he says. But unlike Obama, Boehner rarely even tries to get people to follow him. Where the President actually proposes legislation, the Speaker mostly reacts. When he holds a press conference, it’s like he gathers the other House Republicans around and asks, “So what do you want me to tell these guys?”
If there’s any lack of leadership in Washington, it’s coming from the Speaker’s office, not the White House.
Words cannot begin to express our sorrow for the families who are grieving so suddenly right now. The House of Representatives offers its prayers to the victims and the city of Boston. We also give thanks for the professionals and Good Samaritans who prevented further loss of life. This is a terrible day for all Americans, but we will carry on in the American spirit, and come together with grace and strength.
And Boehner’s back to hostage taking.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said Thursday that Republicans will require a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar that they agree to raise the debt ceiling, which the United States is expected to hit in August.
Dollar-for-dollar cuts would mean an insane slashing of federal spending during an economic recovery — i.e., a boneheaded and typical Republican assault on demand. What Boehner is actually say is, “Destroy the economy or I’ll destroy the economy.” What this looks like is that Boehner just wants his hostage dead, but he doesn’t want to be the guy who actually does the shooting. Which would mean it’s not actually a serious threat, so much as a bluff.
However, Boehner’s leadership in the House is pretty much theoretical at this point and the same guys who thought it would be a great idea to sink the economy through a debt default last time haven’t gotten any less stupid. Still, this means the choices are the same — destroy the economy or they’ll destroy the economy.
In which case the wisest thing to do would be to give them the gun and tell them to shoot their own damned hostage themselves. You want to go fullblown Hoover on the economy? Great, now let’s have everyone tune in and watch you do it. And when everything goes all to hell and the economy crashes again, everyone will know this is your economy and your economic policy.
Maybe they’ll back down or maybe they won’t. But we won’t have real economic recovery unless they do. Meaning the whole shebang is already in their hands. This would just be making them own it.
Boehner misreads poll to claim support for GOP cuts.
John Boehner is promoting a new Marist-McClatchy poll which supposedly shows that Americans love cutting government spending. Boehner claims the poll shows that “Americans want spending cuts,” and quotes a Marist official asserting it demonstrates that Americans “are not in a mood to increase taxes.”
Which is funny, because the poll actually shows that majorities of voters would rather increase taxes than cut spending on education, Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and infrastructure. In other words, it demonstrates a central fact about public opinion that may help determine how the sequester “blame game” will play: Americans say they love cutting government but suddenly balk in a big way when you start talking about cutting specific programs.
The poll’s toplines do at first glance appear favorable to Republicans. It finds that voters prefer cutting spending to increasing taxes in general by 53-37. It finds that a plurality of Americans think spending cuts won’t impact them — and that as many think the cuts will help the economy or have no impact on it as think the cuts will hurt it.
But here’s the thing, that’s the result you always get — at least, when you aren’t specific about the cuts. People love spending cuts in the abstract, because they seem too think that half or money is overseas as foreign aid and the other half is wasted on dubious scientific studies about democracy in goldfish. But when it’s not just vague “wasteful spending,” government spending suddenly becomes very popular — which the Marist-McClatchy poll found. According to Sargent, “the poll took the welcome step — which I haven’t seen before — of asking whether Americans prefer tax hikes rather than cuts in specific programs.”
- by 65-31 they prefer to raise taxes than cut spending on education
- by 60-33 they prefer to raise taxes than cut Social Security
- by 57-36 they prefer to raise taxes than cut Medicare
- by 53-40 they prefer to raise taxes than cut spending for transportation including roads and bridges
- by 50-42 they prefer to raise taxes than cut Medicaid
By using this poll to champion the GOP’s super-awesome stand on the sequester (i.e., let the cuts happen), Boehner is once again signing his caucus’s name to some unpopular cuts. And, of course, he’s making the mistake of pointing out exactly the sort of cuts Republicans are demanding. Worse, since he’s misusing poll numbers to misrepresent public support, he’s basically lying to you about what you believe. I’ll never understand why politicians believe that would work.
In any case, this is the GOP’s schizoid messaging on sequester cuts : if you don’t like them, they were Obama’s idea. But if you do like them, the Republican Party is responsible. As always, cognitive dissonance is no impediment to the resourceful Republican spin doctor.
It’s Boehner’s sequester now.
The New York Times has an article up about Republican reaction to the sequester deadline and Boehner’s kamikaze run at the economy. That reaction is pure joy.
While the frustrations of Congressional Democrats and Mr. Obama with Mr. Boehner are reaching a fever pitch, House Republicans could not be more pleased with their leader.
“We asked him to commit to us that when the cuts actually came on March 1, that he would stand firm and not give in, and he’s holding to that,” said Representative Steve Scalise, Republican of Louisiana and chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee. “I think Friday will be an important day that shows we’re finally willing to stand and fight for conservative principles and force Washington to start living within its means. And that will be a big victory.”
That’s just a representative sample, GOPer after GOPer steps forward to give the Orange One “credit” for triggering the sequester. “Republican aides say privately that Mr. Boehner sees no need to negotiate; Republicans are in a good place, they argue, because they want spending cuts and those cuts are happening,” the report tells us.
All of which triggers this observation from Ed Kilgore:
[The] expressions of deep satisfaction with the sequester being heard in Republican circles almost everywhere seem to have rapidly replaced last week’s talking points blaming the whole thing on the president. I guess they just can’t stop the joy in their hearts from bursting into view at the dismay of public employees and the fear and confusion of “takers” everywhere. But happiest of all is the Orange Man who for once can go to sleep at night without fear of being shivved in this sleep by Eric Cantor or humiliated by his own supposed followers. So enjoy the day, Mr. Speaker; it won’t get any better than this.
No, it won’t get better. It’ll get worse. And all this Republican triumphalism is profoundly unwise on their part. After a huge effort to pin the blame on the President, message discipline breaks down completely and House Republicans parade the sequester around like a trophy
The public was already inclined to blame the GOP for the sequester, drastically cutting spending is not going to bring the sunny economic days ‘baggers seem to believe it will, and Republicans’ fingerprints are not just all over this thing — they’ve actually signed their names on it in fingerpaints.
This is not going to turn out well. Not for me, not for you, not for the nation — but especially not for Republicans celebrating the fact that they just dropped a time bomb of their own making down their pants. This is in all likelihood all going to go so very, very wrong, leaving Republicans to explain to 2014 voters why it was exactly that they broke out the champagne and confetti on March the First, 2013.