Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 10, 2010

THE BOEHNER BACKPEDAL.... Following up on an earlier item, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) probably realizes how politically problematic his remarks were this morning.

To briefly recap, Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, argued last week that American taxpayers should help shoulder the costs of the BP oil spill disaster. Given the affection between the Chamber and congressional Republicans, Brian Beutler asked Boehner, "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?"

Boehner endorsed het Donohue line: "I think the people responsible in the oil spill -- BP and the federal government -- should take full responsibility for what's happening there."

Soon after, Boehner's spokesperson said the Minority Leader "didn't understand" what Beutler asked. Now, Boehner's office is saying we didn't understand the Minority Leader's answer.

According to Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, the GOP leader stood by what he's said since May 3 -- "Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up [BP's] mess."

"He's said for a month now that BP will bear the full burden of this disaster," said Steel.

The "responsibility" Boehner was talking about was not taxpayer money cleaning up the spill. It was whatever reform and restructuring comes after the leak is stopped.

Beutler's inquiry wasn't exactly vague: "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?" It's a pretty easy yes-or-no question. Boehner certainly seemed to agree with Donohue's sentiment, and the answer he gave to reporters is quite a ways from the "clarification" from his office.

Apparently, we've begun the phase in which the meaning of the word "responsibility" is parsed.

If Dems stay on the offensive, this will remain a political problem for the GOP.

Update: Speaking of staying on the offensive, Jim Manley, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), issues a statement this afternoon calling on Republicans to explain whether they agree with Boehner or not.

"Leader Boehner just took Republicans' defense of special interests to a whole new level by saying taxpayers should pay to clean up BP's mess. This may explain why Republicans have repeatedly blocked Democrats' attempts to hold BP accountable, and why today they're trying to hand a $47 billion giveaway to Big Oil.

"Senate Republicans should tell the American people whether they agree with Leader Boehner's comments. The public deserves to know whether Republicans are going to join Democrats to hold BP accountable, or just continue to protect big oil companies -- the same way Republicans have protected big banks and health care companies."

Steve Benen 3:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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"If Dems stay on the offensive, this will remain a political problem for the GOP."

Then this will not remain a political problem for the GOP.

Posted by: erp65 on June 10, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

The trigger words for Boehner's knee-jerk response were "Chamber of Commerce." One always agrees with one's masters first, thinks about it later.

Posted by: Louise on June 10, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

It depends on what the meaning of BP is.

Posted by: st john on June 10, 2010 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

boehner is seriously a 'non-thinker' it's impossible to debate this guy on anything. he probably cheats at golf too!

Posted by: nenabeans on June 10, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

If Dems stay on the offensive, this will remain a political problem for the GOP.

Especially if the Dims dont "backpedal" -- following Bernie Sanders' lead would be an excellent idea...

Posted by: neill on June 10, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The real Boehner resides approximately 3/4 of an inch below his orangish colored skin. There, what remains of a human, resides nihilistic remnants of a crusty, heartless soul who doesn't give a hoot for the common man which he holds in utter distain. That is until he's up for reelection, or has to backpedal from the truth he speaks when he is not thinking. A bit deeper down, about 1 inch below the skin color, resides Carl Rove's rotted corpse.....

Posted by: stevio on June 10, 2010 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Boehner should have written "no taxpayer money" on his hand or something.

Posted by: chrenson on June 10, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall has a post saying that Boner is playing tricks in that

1) BP pays for the cleanup of the spill
2) BP's liability for damages are capped at $75 million and the gov't picks up the rest.

Posted by: anonymoose on June 10, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, he didn't backtrack as much as you might think. He agrees that BP should clean up the mess. But that's not the same thing as being liable for *everything* affected by the spill, including everyone's livelihood in the area, or for being liable for damages. Boehner is using weasel words to try to avoid having to admit he's opposed to lifting the $75 million cap on damages and that he doesn't think BP should be on the hook for all of that. See the followup link on TPM for more info.

Posted by: PaulB on June 10, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I am still waiting to hear the outrage from the people directly and inderectly affected in the Gulf and beyond. I hear bits and pieces, but have yet to see or hear something that makes a difference. The local politicians are dancing around the issue. I want to see major actions in the halls of congress and the halls of Wall St. Until there is a civil uprising in the halls of power that directly impact the players, and that we can witness, I don't believe we have reached the tipping point. That politicians from the area are still getting away with promoting offshore drilling and Sarah Palin is not hauled into a public forum to answer her critics is the outrage. This whole thing is becoming a bit of a joke, if so many people weren't losing all they have. I don't want any more people to die, but I don't want the responsible parties to continue to tell lies without direct and immediate action.

Am I crossing the line? Are we going to be Helened?

Posted by: st john on June 10, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Josh Marshall is right about the distinction between clean up and damages. The damages cap is intended to shift the responsiblity away from the oil company wrongdoer (BP in this case) to the victim or maybe the government.

Boehner is saying that BP ought to be let off the hook for the bulk of the damages. Those costs should be picked up by the government.

Posted by: Ron Byers on June 10, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Republican Duplicity:

As Lake Palin grows
So does BOner's nose

Boner screams: We are "Taxed Enough Already",so
let's make the taxpayer
Shell out more dough!

And also charge the gub'ment
Stick them with the tab,
As I scream "Stop the federal spending!"
cuz in that department we are fab.

Can you lie like this and have the country believe you? HELL NO YOU CAN'T!

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on June 10, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Boner is a bonehead. If the Democrats can't beat this numbskull like a rented mule, they deserve to be a minority party!

Posted by: Sam Simple on June 10, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

St. John, you want to move an entire nation to action? You've got less than an hour to do it. Hit 'em with collapsing buildings and they'll do whatever you say. But release an ungodly amount of oil off the LA coast and give it a month or two to wash up on shore? Nothing.

The enviro-energy revolution won't be happening as long as there's TV, air conditioning, gasoline and Internet porn to consume. Because the Republicans have seized the opportunity to blame Obama for the oil spill, now there's not even a clear enemy to hunt down and kill. "Sure BP is a bunch of foreigners. But so's our black president!!!"

On Facebook today one of the most popular joke posts from "friends" of mine is the caption: "What a tragedy. This picture of a oil soaked bird absolutely breaks my heart." Followed by a photo of a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. There's your outrage.


Posted by: chrenson on June 10, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

@chrenson: I share your frustration, as I'm sure many here do. One wonders what our breaking point is and if we will even survive in any recognizable form. Being a "spiritual" person, I trust in a Higher Power, but I don't expect It to do my work for me. We each have a responsibility for the care of our home. Our home will respond to us as we respond to her. If we soil our own nest, then we will have to live in a soiled nest. Or, we can clean it up out of respect for ourselves and our family. It is our choice, not the nest's.

Posted by: st john on June 10, 2010 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Oddly enough, no mention of Boehner's comment on Drudge report. Excuse me, I need to go wash up now after opening that site.

Posted by: Michael Carpet on June 10, 2010 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

@st john: Though I'm not a spiritual person, I am right there with you across the board. In fact, I pretty much always am.

Posted by: chrenson on June 10, 2010 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, chrenson. I sometimes wonder if I am too far over the edge, one way or the other. Good to know that I have at least one who appreciates my POV.
I am committed to Oneness through Justice and Transformation
st john

Posted by: st john on June 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

I am getting angrier and angrier over this BP/Interior Department mess. How dare the GOP leaders think that the US taxpayers should pay for this clean up...

Posted by: BETH on June 10, 2010 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

Talk about grasping at straws! I guess maybe you have to in order to distract attention from your guy in Conn. who claimed numerous times that he served in Viet Nam, and never did. My newest favorite is your new Senate candidate in SC Alvin Greene. Was Marion Berry not available?

Posted by: SamAdams25 on June 10, 2010 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

Dude, maybe you ought to try to take the straw out of your nose for a few minutes. It will probably help with your delusions.

Posted by: In what respect, Charlie? on June 10, 2010 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Right wingers are sooo goood at interrupting a conversation, making intelligent discussions are difficult to have. Sort of like three years olds, without the excuse of age. Perhaps because they have virtually nothing to contribute in that vein eh "SamAdams"?

Posted by: Gus diZerega on June 11, 2010 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

There will be a lot off mothers and fathers how think the same about this. I'm gay, so i can't be a father, but i think the same about it.

Posted by: internet marketing wassenaar on December 28, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK



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