Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

September 8, 2010

BOEHNER HAS A COUNTER-OFFER ON TAXES.... My biggest concern with House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) has nothing to do with his ideology or his agenda, though they leave much to be desired. The more meaningful problem is that, when it comes to public policy, Boehner appears to have no idea what he's talking about.

This morning, for example, Boehner spoke to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, and said he's "open" to some of President Obama's tax-cut proposals. But the would-be Speaker preferred to talk about his counter-offer: "Rep. Boehner called for bipartisan cooperation on two new proposals: First, to pass a spending bill now at the 2008 level and second, to extend the current tax rates for two years."

Ezra Klein highlights the problem.

So on the one hand, a measure that will make a small dent in the deficit. On the other hand, a measure that will lead to a huge increase in the deficit. There's no theory of the economy in which this really makes sense: If the market is worried about the government's finances, this makes them worse, not better. If we need lower tax rates, then simply holding the tax rates at the level that produced 2010's disappointing economic performance isn't enough.

It's also worth noting that these policies are both stale: The Bush tax cuts are, well, the Bush tax cuts. They're tax policy from 10 years ago, designed to deal with a very different set of circumstances. And the 2008 budget is, similarly, just an arbitrary number from some point in the past. Our economic situation has changed dramatically in the past few years. Don't Republicans have any fresh thinking on what to do about it?

I'll assume that's a rhetorical question.

It's important that political observers resist the urge to assume that those who disagree with them are idiots just because they disagree with them. No one ideology or party has a monopoly on wisdom.

But Boehner seems to have an allergy to policy depth.

He wants to lower spending to 2008 levels. Why? Because those levels were lower. Why would that be worthwhile? Because lower is, you know, better. Likewise, he wants to keep Bush-era tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. Why? Because those rates were lower. Why would that be worthwhile? Because lower is better here, too.

Boehner isn't just wrong; he's superficial. He can make an argument and sound coherent, just so long as no one expects a thought any longer than a bumper sticker.

Consider just the past couple of months. He can't speak intelligently about infrastructure; he can't speak intelligently about stimulus; he can't speak intelligently about the economy in general; he can't speak intelligently about jobs; and he can't speak intelligently about the Congressional Budget Office.

In late July, at a White House meeting with the congressional leadership of both parties, President Obama reminded Boehner that it was a Republican idea for Bush's tax rates to expire. Boehner replied that he didn't "structure" the policy he voted for, eventually leading meeting participants to laugh at him.

I keep wishing John Boehner would step back from his duties for a little while, brush up on policy, and then come back to his role. It'd be less embarrassing for him, and less frustrating for the rest of us.

Steve Benen 2:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (24)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

"Boehner appears to have no idea what he's talking about."

Maybe sober he'd make more sense.

Posted by: SaintZak on September 8, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Or playing yet another game of golf .........

Posted by: stormskies on September 8, 2010 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

And, this is the person who is almost being conceded as the next Speaker of the House? Are we just going to surrender the USA to the insane? Is the media that stupid/corrupt that they cannot ask and analyze? This just sucks!

Posted by: st john on September 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe Boehner's brain is a bumper sticker: paper-thin and stuck in place forever.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on September 8, 2010 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the media lets him get away with saying "this is not the time to raise taxes on the businesses that do the hiring," Boehner wins. He has already conned blue-dog Dems and others with that line. Reporters have to challenge him and say, "Data shows that most small business owners are not in the highest tax bracket, and those in the highest bracket are likely to just keep the money or invest it overseas, not engage in hiring." But the mainstream media won't do this, and the White House and the Dems have not come up with a simple way to say this.

Posted by: curm on September 8, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Good to recall that a justification for the Bush tax cuts was to fix the horrible impacts of the SURPLUS we had after the Clinton administration. Now the same tax cuts are supposed to help the deficit.

Posted by: jb on September 8, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

right jb .. was it total misery for our country when clinton managed to create the surplus ? after raising taxes of the fucking rich ? god the pain of it ...

Posted by: stormskies on September 8, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner and his fellow Republicans recognize only one economic idea: high taxes are bad, low taxes are good, no taxation is best. Having embraced that "truth," they have no need for deeper thinking. Got a problem? Cut taxes, shrink government, those are the cures. Nothing else matters.

Posted by: James Conner on September 8, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

He's a talking point machine. He has no interest in governing. He's only interested in staying in power so he can travel on the Govn't dime to the best golf courses.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on September 8, 2010 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

As the next Speaker of The House, Representative Boehner has no need to understand policy!

As long as he can memorize his assigned talking points and follow the instructions of his corporate masters, understanding of policy is only an impediment to the efficient carrying out of his assigned duties.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on September 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

Tell me again why he is the next Speaker of the House? Have we all lost our minds? I suppose we have already conceded the Senate leadership, as well.
And, what is it the Republicans are going to "DO" when they are in power? Apparently the unemployed are there because they are too stupid to see that they are unemployed because of Republican policy./snark/ I hope!

Posted by: st john on September 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

You should also note that the 2008 levels were lower because Bush was hiding all the war spending as emergency appropriations. Iraq and Afghanistan's costs were pretty much entirely off budget.

Should we go back to 2008 budget tricks too?

Posted by: Morat20 on September 8, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

"And, what is it the Republicans are going to "DO" when they are in power?"

Start impeachment hearings of course.

Posted by: whichwitch on September 8, 2010 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

So the REAL question is WHY WOULD THE NIMRODS IN THE HOUSE (GOP) VOTE TO ELECT HIM SPEAKER? Please. At least Nancy is smart.

Posted by: SYSPROG on September 8, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

As long as the Republicans are rewarded for playing stupid, they'll continue to do it.

Posted by: qwerty on September 8, 2010 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

For the sake of the nation, the degree to which I'd like to see John Boehner lose to challenger Justin Coussoule this November borders on the profound. I'd think considerably more highly of Boehner if he was merely dead weight.

Posted by: thenekkidtruth on September 8, 2010 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Business owners are hoarding cash and not hiring because of imminent increases in taxes and employee benefit costs. But...Boehner is crazy for suggesting that we not raise taxes on the job-creators in the middle of a recession when unemployment is 10%. Right. The guy might be a little rough-around-the-edges, but is way more in-touch with economic policy and public opinion than Pelosi....

Posted by: Scott on September 8, 2010 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I am not an expert on the economy, but I have maintained our families finances for almost 35 years now.
If I were making choices that did not help our finances, I would hope I would be smart enough not to repeat the mistakes and try something new.

If the tax cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy did not stimulate the economy for the years that have been in place, why keep them?
If we need money to close the deficit or stimulate spending and the tax cuts have not done this, why keep the tax cuts?
If 8 years of republican rule led to this economy, why re elect republicans?
If the deficit did not matter when Bush/Cheney was in office, why does it matter when Obama is their?
If bohner is not a smart republican, why do the republicans want him in charge?
Just asking?

Posted by: Diane on September 8, 2010 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

No one ideology or party has a monopoly on wisdom.

Taking the long historical view, I'd agree with that statement, but I'm hard-pressed to think of one current elected Republican who has what I'd call wisdom. Arnold Schwarzenegger does seem to live in the real world, so maybe we can be generous and credit him with wisdom. Even setting the bar that low, I can't think of another example.
However, it is true that no one party has a monopoly on stupid.

Posted by: Decatur Dem on September 8, 2010 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Scott, I'm going out on limb here and assuming that you posted your RNC talking points because you actually believe them. Belief, however, does NOT equate to validity.
1) Any hoarding of cash by "business owners" is NOT because of fear of higher taxes. That cash will be counted as income and will INCREASE said taxes.
2) Hiring and providing benefits for employees is considered a "business expense" and is, at least partially, tax-deductible.
3) Yes, the sorta-orange Satan is "crazy" for suggesting not raising taxes on the rich. Only if the rich actually did serve as "job creators" would The Man Who Will Never Fill Speaker Pelosi's Pumps Even If He Becomes Speaker have a valid argument. They haven't and he doesn't.
4) As for being "...way more in-touch with economic policy and public opinion than Pelosi..."; the Orange Ohioan hasn't displayed an understanding of economics in his entire Congressional career and has drifted even further from reality since the Great Recession began under GWB. His contact with the "public" seems to be mostly limited to either golfing with buddies who want him to do something for them, or vice versa, and caddies well-versed in providing a tippable service that, I somehow feel, does NOT include making statements upsetting to the tipper. So I have doubts concerning your assertion about his in-depth knowledge of the citizenry's true desires.
Doubts? Not really; how about: complete and utter, contemptuous disbelief.

Posted by: Doug on September 8, 2010 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

I may be a little out of touch here, but I'm curious: is he an orange drunk as well as an orange idiot? Or is it just one or the other?

Posted by: Thisby on September 8, 2010 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

" They're tax policy from 10 years ago, designed to deal with a very different set of circumstances."

Seems to me it was designed to deal with identical circumstances - rich people paying "too much" tax.

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on September 9, 2010 at 7:14 AM | PERMALINK

The Bush tax cuts are ... tax policy from 10 years ago, designed to deal with a very different set of circumstances.

Nonsense. The Bush tax cuts are part or Republican policy dating back at least to Reagan of cutting taxes on the rich. The circumstances of cutting taxes for the rich are to cut taxes for the rich and nothing more.

Klein foolishly buys into the myth pushed by Republicans that the Bush tax cuts on the rich (and let's not forget, by the by, that the tax cuts for the middle class were added by Democrats) had some purpose -- "creating jobs" or "stimulating the economy" -- other than cutting taxes for the rich. That's the line the GOP has to put out in order to gain support for their slanted exonomic policies, but it's still bullshit.

Posted by: Gregory on September 9, 2010 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

So you slam the GOP for wanting lower taxes which means that you think that Washington has done a bang up job with the money we have already sent them and need even more.

No one minds paying taxes for services however every sane person minds paying too much for crappy service.

We paid for rig inspectors and still we get the blowout in the Gulf.

We paid for egg inspectors and still we get bad eggs.

We paid for intelligence service and still we get bad intel on Iraq and Iran.

We pay for infrastucture and still we get bridges to nowhere and airports for no one.

We pay for bridge inspectors and still we get bridges falling down.

We pay for public schools and still we get a poor educational system.

We are sending our tax dollars to corrupt elected officals most of whom are very wealthy with a proven track record of incompetence, graft and corruption.

They have created a massive federal government system that pays it's employees at the highest end of the scale and yet we have a mismanaged, incompetent unresponsive mess to show for it.

And still you want to send them more money.

Posted by: manapp99 on September 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly