Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 24, 2010

BOEHNER CLAIMS IMAGINARY CREDIBILITY, PRETENDS TO BE A GROWN-UP.... In the early 1990s, John Boehner (R-Ohio) was absolutely convinced that President Clinton's economic agenda would be a disaster. He was wrong. Early on in the last decade, Boehner couldn't have been more certain that President Bush's economic agenda would generate incredible prosperity. Wrong again. And last year, Boehner just knew that President Obama's recovery efforts wouldn't help the economy at all. Strike three.

Boehner, in other words, is one of those rare officials with an uninterrupted track record of complete and total failure. It's reminiscent of the "Seinfeld" episode in which George Costanza realizes that all of his instincts and decisions are entirely backwards, and begins doing the opposite of what he's inclined to do.

Only George recognized that all of his decisions were wrong. Boehner looks back at his two decades of breathtaking misjudgments, and concludes that he's not only credible on economic policy, but he's also in a position to lecture those who are trying to clean up his mess.

Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, was set on Tuesday to call on President Obama to fire his economic advisers as Mr. Boehner tried to lay out an economic case for restoring Congressional Republicans to power in the November elections.

In a speech to be delivered at the City Club of Cleveland, Mr. Boehner planned to unveil a five-point plan that he said would provide a better economic alternative to the Democrats' current course.

In addition to encouraging Mr. Obama to extend the Bush tax cuts that are set to expire, Mr. Boehner will say the president should seek and accept the resignations of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council.

Reading the text as written for delivery, it seemed like a series of tired talking points, just sewn together. Did you know John Boehner loves tax cuts? And hates cap-and-trade, health care reform, and card-check? Who would have guessed?

Boehner's vision is absurd; his credibility is non-existent; and his policy prescription is a joke. I realize that he's trying to position himself as a future Speaker of the House -- today represents an audition of sorts -- and even had the audacity to include this in his speech: "It's time to put grown-ups in charge. It's time for people willing to accept responsibility."

But that's crazy. Boehner should be begging for forgiveness, not power. If he's willing to "accept responsibility," he can start by acknowledging that his ideal economic agenda -- the one tried from 2001 to 2008 -- was an abysmal failure. Indeed, the centerpiece of what Boehner calls a "fresh start" is an extension of the Bush-era tax policies that led to weak growth, a stunted job market, and a massive deficit.

This "fresh start" is literally just the Bush/Cheney agenda -- Bush's tax rates, Bush's regulatory structure, Bush's domestic policies -- coupled with a vague promise to cut spending somewhere, at some time, affecting someone.

As for putting "grown-ups in charge," maybe now would be a good time to point out that the American Enterprise Institute's Norm Ornstein recently described Boehner and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor as "the Bart Simpsons of Congress, gleeful at smarmy and adolescent tactics and unable and unwilling to get serious."

Boehner genuinely seems to believe that if we just go back to the policies that got us into this mess, maybe they'll work this time. That agenda already failed once, and it doesn't make a lick of sense, but that's no reason not to give it another shot, right? Boehner hopes, in other words, that a national amnesia has swept the land.

And who knows, maybe it has. But for anyone who has a shred of understanding of recent events, Boehner's extended whine today is impossible to take seriously.

Steve Benen 10:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (30)

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"Boehner genuinely seems to believe that if we just go back to the policies that got us into this mess, maybe they'll work this time."

Not amnesia.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different outcome.

Posted by: puravida on August 24, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

And yet Geithner and Summers are still in charge, even after leading us into this mess. Boehner's a joke, but those two should resign or be fired.

Posted by: Tom Allen on August 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Did Boehner give his economic policy speech from a tanning booth? -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on August 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

The MSM could call him on it, but then they'd have to cite every other erroneous pol they gave an open mike to in the last decade--and there'd be no room for news.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 24, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

The Party of Never-Never Land Stomps On...

Never apologize...
Never back down...
Never give an inch...
Never look back with regret...
Never say you made a mistake...
Never admit your opponent has a valid point...
Never doubt the validity of your own thoughts...
Never miss an opportunity to cast an aspersion on a liberal...

The above is why you can't kill zombies.
They never say never to never and they never die...
They got coherence, anger and Nazi genes...

And ultimately gaining total power...
After more tax cuts for the rich...
And after "capturing" every regulatory agency...
And after eliminating every mosque and every union...
They aim to throw Glenn Greenwald and his buds into prison...
Where they can freely bitch about the Obama Administration's failures...

Aint' that a pretty picture!

Posted by: koreyel on August 24, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

...but those two should resign or be fired. -Tom Allen

Hence the subtle genius in Boehner's calling for their dismissal. If Obama were to do it now, he'd be handing the Republican a giant political victory.

Posted by: doubtful on August 24, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

steve, you are much more entertaining when you are posting those animated butts and crap from www.doodie.com

Posted by: marsha on August 24, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

Here is the problem: There is no doubt that Dumbya is responsible for our current mess and that his policies if repeated would only put us further down the hole....BUT until 2008, unemployment was vastly lower during Dumbya's reign nevermind that wages were stagnant and it was kept down by a housing bubble, the Dems have had the White House and sizeable majorities in Congress for two years and unemployment is WORSE than it was at any time during Dumbya's reign, with no signs or plans that it will improve anytime soon, the deficit has ballooned (Iknow it should and should be even bigger but that is counterintuitive to the average American)as has the national debt and we have seen some sovereign debt issues in Europe and it is the Democrats who are seen as in the pocket of Wall Street given the lousy financial regulation bill that was just passed. Add to that a health care reform bill which for the average person has only provided uncertainty and if I did not know better, I would think about voting for the GOP. This really is a scary time when the failure of strong leadership could lead to the government being taken over by real whackos instead of just incompetents.

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Posted by: gaga94 on August 24, 2010 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

"But for anyone who has a shred of understanding of recent events..."

This is a substantial qualification. What percentage of the population have a shred of understanding: 5%, 10%? On a good day, on an important issue, maybe 25%?

The willful blithering ignorance of the American population right now is destroying the nation, and I don't know what anyone can do anything to illuminate the darkness inside those thick skulls. Not only is up down for them, but they are smug about it.

Posted by: PTate in MN on August 24, 2010 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, well, I'm kinda for that whole "Fire Larry Summers" thing. Or at least demote him. Which just goes to show that like a blind hog, even Boehner finds an acorn once in a while.

Bring back Christina Romer!

Posted by: bluewave on August 24, 2010 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

As several posters have noted above, firing the economic team ain't a bad idea. How Summers, in particular, could have any credibility with the president is beyond me. But I assume that Summers, like Petraeus, is saying to Obama over and over again, "Trust me, things are getting better, you just have to be patient ..."

Posted by: sjw on August 24, 2010 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

Steve: You hit on a new Dem campaign slogan. "Forgive them, but don't vote for them". Something like that

Posted by: Wes on August 24, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Boner and his fascist colleagues are fortunate enough to live in a country where no one reads any books, understands anything about American history and gets all of their misinformation from one cable TV network that shamelessly lies, distorts the facts and promotes only one narrow, bigoted, plutocratic point of view.

Posted by: Sam Simple on August 24, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it, Obama ought to fire his communications team too, because it is obvious that the WH ain't driving the economic dialogue either; the ridiculous Republicans have been in that driver's seat for months now. The WH has the most ginormous bully pulpit in the world, but Gibbs et al. have proven utterly unable to use it.

Posted by: sjw on August 24, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

I really cannot recall the source for this memory , but it may be spot on . The idea that these boys are wickedly bright , and Obama is both flattered and entertained by them . It is also well to imagine that for all their faults Obama is taking a more knowledgeable position after any conversation with them . It may be very difficult for a drowning man to accept help without , consciously or unconsciously , trying to drown the rescuers as well . I believe Obama to be an excellent example of an individual who resists the impulse regardless of its strength .

Posted by: FRP on August 24, 2010 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

I get that the Minority Oompa Loompa is clinically insane, but (unfortunately), I have to agree with him on firing Summers and Geithner. They should be fired (from a cannon, into the sun). They have a track record as wrong as Boehner's.

Posted by: nobody on August 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I'll join in the Fire Geithner and Summers chorus. Obama should have fired them months ago. Geithner should not only be fired, he should be prosecuted for his violations of SEC regulations when he was President of the NY fed, as was documented by the TARP Inspector General's report.

Fire Geithner.

Posted by: some guy on August 24, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

I can't wait for the world as we know it to end. Honestly. Thanks to people like Weak and Stupid Bush, Darth Chaney, Boner and Mitch the Bitch, the best thing that could happen to amerikkka is for it to simply end. We'll drag the rest of the world with us, and it's only a matter of time before it actually happens, so I say bring it on now hen I'm able to enjoy it. I don't have kids, and I damn sure won't even pretend to care about yours. I just want to use that skill as a sharpshooter I learned before it's too late to really have fun with it and all of the good towers fall to the ground. I'd hate to get old and just watch it happen when there is just so much I want to enjoy burning to the ground right now.

Posted by: I No Longer Care on August 24, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Give Boehner a break -- he was probably drunk when he wrote that speech.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on August 24, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

If only the people who didn't care didn't write , sigh ...

Posted by: FRP on August 24, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Boehner hopes, in other words, that a national amnesia has swept the land."

Unfortunately, he may be right... if not sweeping, there is a least a virulent outbreak of amnesia going around.

Posted by: Ohioan on August 24, 2010 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

"Boehner hopes, in other words, that a national amnesia has swept the land."

"Boehner knows, in other words, that a national attention span equal to that of an gnat has swept the land."

that's why i'm going to the polls [in ohio] and vote dem...

Posted by: dj spellchecka on August 24, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's just so sad, all those articles and posts in the MSM and lefty blogs in 2008 falling over themselves extolling the virtues of a Summers or a Geithner when Obama was putting together what was then called his "Economic Dream Team".

Now the "oompa loompa with a boner" is the one making sense when he says that they need to hit the road.

Posted by: dualdiagnosis on August 24, 2010 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

If anyone needed reminding that the GOP is run by adolescents then just look at the Minority Speaker. What's up with THAT? You would think they would elect someone with a LITTLE bit of credibility!

Oh and dualdiagnosis? If you think Boehner is making 'sense' then you really ARE a moron and belong in that party...

Posted by: SYSPROG on August 24, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I am totally disgusted with both parties. There is plenty of hypprocrisy in both. And either side thinks they are totally right. True, part of this mess we are in was started during Bush's term. But, Obama has been in office long enough to be able to see good signs of relief, but these seem to go backward. It is getting a little old hearing the Dems say, "it's Bush's fault. There are plenty of ignornt cool aid drinkers on each the right and the left.

Posted by: rodney matthieu on August 24, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

The only problem with some people hearing the Dems say, "It's Bush's fault," is that they have difficulty with the truth. Part of that truth is that Obama's "Dream Team" are the folks who have kept us out a depression that could have easily led to unemployment at twenty percent instead of ten. Oh right, I forgot we're not supposed to say "It could have been a lot worse," even if it's the truth. Because some people have difficulty with the truth.

Posted by: blocked out on August 24, 2010 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if it is even possible to weigh the culpability of the booschie regime . They obviously are not responsible for helping any American foolish enough to be born W/O a trust fund .

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