Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 15, 2011

IT'S NOT A GAME.... House Speaker John Boehner was asked this morning about expected job losses as a result of Republican budget cuts. "In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," he said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it."

Asked exactly how many thousands of Americans would be left unemployed as a result of GOP cuts, Boehner said he didn't know. Apparently, he doesn't care, either.

Democrats, not surprisingly, are on the offensive. Time's Mark Halperin thinks Dems are choosing to "ignore a real debate."

Both sides engage in this kind of all-hands-on-deck exploitation of stray remarks by the opposition to try to win a wipe-out victory in one or more news cycles. From the DNC to liberal interest groups to Democratic members of Congress, the piling on Boehner is meant to drown out discussion of issues and define the budget fight on favorable terms. Again, Republicans pull this stunt too all the time. It is one of the Beltway's most unattractive sideshows, even when (especially when) it becomes the main event.

This strikes me as wildly off-base. Halperin is arguing, in effect, that this is some kind of superficial "gotcha" moment, and little more than a distraction from what should be a substantive debate.

But that's just not the case. Job creation and the 9% unemployment rate represent a national crisis and the top priority for Americans nationwide. The Speaker of the House, by his own admission, prefers a budget plan that would make unemployment worse, on purpose. This morning, Boehner had no qualms about admitting that his own policies would put thousands of Americans out of work -- and he doesn't care.

This wasn't a "stray remark"; it was an acknowledgement of the most serious flaw in Republican budgetary policy, which as best as I can tell, is pretty important this week. To care about Boehner's concession isn't to "ignore a real debate"; it's to appreciate the debate that matters most.

John Boehner intends to force thousands of teachers, police officers, medical professionals, and food inspectors from their jobs, and this morning said he doesn't much care. Under the circumstances, the question isn't why Democrats find this interesting -- the question is why Mark Halperin doesn't.

Steve Benen 3:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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"Under the circumstances, the question isn't why Democrats find this interesting -- the question is why Mark Halperin doesn't."

Because Halperin is a hack.

Posted by: Andrew on February 15, 2011 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

Please keep highlighting the 450 million hidden in the bill for John Boehners district to build aircraft engines that the Pentagon does not want and will not use.

Posted by: j on February 15, 2011 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't this the problem Dems have all the time? The beltway press thinks the only real debate should be about cutting entitlements, as per the Repubs talking points. Actual job creation or job elimination actually, is not what they want to talk about.

Posted by: Todd Merrell on February 15, 2011 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin's a jackass.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on February 15, 2011 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Dang Andrew! Beat me to it!

However, you neglected to close with:

"This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions."

Posted by: David Bailey on February 15, 2011 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Screw Mark Halperin. Everything isn't a he said she said affair. Sometimes someone is actually right about something. I'd like one of these douche bags to give me reasonable explanation why a smaller less potent govt is better. For some reason I trust people in the govt with my and everyone elses wellfare more then I trust the good graces of the extremely wealthy and the corporations.

Posted by: Gandalf on February 15, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin doesn't understand or care about policy. All he cares about is the game.

Posted by: Rathskeller on February 15, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Why does anyone give Halperin the time of day? He's not quality.

Posted by: Silver Owl on February 15, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Pointing out how many jobs will be lost by proposed budget cuts isn't merely a "game"; it's important to identify real-life consequences of such cuts.

In any event,when the Republicans get serious about sitting down in good faith with the Democrats and working together to agree on a bipartisan comprehensive deficit reduction plan that includes tax increase, then I will criticize the Democrats if they play "games", but until that day,the Republicans have no grounds for complaint.

Posted by: DRF on February 15, 2011 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

"...the question is why Mark Halperin doesn't?"

You kind of answered it yourself.
He's superficial!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on February 15, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, this is the same Mark Halperin who actively engaged in the deep philosophical examination of a truly substantive question during the 2008 campaign: Is Obama An Elitist?

Calling this guy a hack is quite the disservice to hacks everywhere.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on February 15, 2011 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Doesn't the "200,000 new Federal jobs" number appear to be pretty much a flight of fancy, too? I know that a GOP official misrepresenting if not lying about a thing like that is pretty much dog bites man, but isn't it worth talking about anyway?

Posted by: drkrick on February 15, 2011 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin is engaging in typical GOP misdirection. Oh sure, he'd argue he's bipartisan, but no, he is not if this comment is any indication. The correct response to Boner's comment by any actual journalist would be astonishment that the Speaker of the House would make a statement like the one Boner did, and immediately go one by one to all the ranking GOP Senators to see if they agree. Oh, I guess that would be actual work, journalism-wise. Much easier to just play the "everyone does it" card, and go back to his tea and crumpets. He's a hack all right....too bad he's not the only one.

Posted by: T2 on February 15, 2011 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin's comments might have been surprising if they had been uttered by someone else, but Halperin? What else do you expect from him and the rest of the LSM?

Posted by: CDW on February 15, 2011 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Merely saying "because Halperin's a hack" misses the real point. Hack or not, Halperin is pretty much the personification of the Villager MSM zeitgeist and, to their minds, there's "a real debate" to be had about whether cutting government spending creates jobs. Because that's how completely ignorant of economics and policy the blow dried "majored in broadcast communications and learned my trade covering tripe on a local TV news show" halfwits we have instead of journalists really are.

Posted by: Another Steve on February 15, 2011 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Under the circumstances, the question isn't why Democrats find this interesting -- the question is why Mark Halperin doesn't.

Because he is completely oblivious to the fact that he lives in a bubble.

Posted by: the_dan on February 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

What if.....

Nancy Pelosi had made the same statement? Would it just be a "gotcha" moment?

Posted by: James at home on February 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Or maybe by ignoring the relative merits of the parties' positions, refusing to evaluate who has credibility on budgetary matters and who doesn't and instead cynically portraying the argument as just business-as-usual, everyone-does-it partisan gamesmanship, it's Halperin who's choosing to ignore a real debate.

Posted by: Gregory on February 15, 2011 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Halperin is a dick. That's why.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on February 15, 2011 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

Added 200,000 federal jobs?

Is there a source for this claim? Added where?

Posted by: Jimo on February 15, 2011 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," he said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it."

This pretty much explains why, after 6 weeks as Speaker, Boehner hasn't proposed one single bill that would reduce unemployment. He doesn't care about unemployment.

Posted by: Seould on February 15, 2011 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

I do hope Speaker Boehner and Co. haven't misread the 2010 election results and come to the conclusion that a bad economy, no matter WHO is responsible, is the way to increase Republican electoral gains.
Well, except for those who are going to suffer because of it, I do...

Posted by: Doug on February 15, 2011 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

Did anyone think to mention to Boehner that the jobs added since 2008 are mostly in the VA, DHS, and civilian DOD? Shouldn't he know this? Does he know this, but not think it important?

If Boehner was told that Obama proposed to slash the workforce that protects our borders, supports our troops, and cares for our wounded soldiers by 15% would you think his reaction would be "So be it?" I think if the proposal was from Obama conservatives would think it a threat of existential proportions.

FYI best place to find past, present, and future info on fed employment is White House budget docs:

Posted by: MassachusettsLiberalinDC on February 15, 2011 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

Can't be said often enough:

Halperin's an idiotic jackass.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on February 16, 2011 at 12:11 AM | PERMALINK

Halperin is a complete ass! Speaking of complete ass's, on Monday, Joe Scarborough played a clip of Boehner dodging one of several questions from Feline Faced David Gregory and Scarborough remarked that Boehner was doing a great job as Speaker thus far. I snarffed my coffee listening to Jethro spew this bullshit and immediately knew that Rachel Maddow would take this bullshit statement apart on her show. Last night, she did just that. Halperin and Scarborough are 2 of the biggest beltway idiots on tv. I can't wait for Keith's return so that he can crush these fucking idiots on a nightly baisis again!

Posted by: roxseady on February 16, 2011 at 2:28 PM | PERMALINK

This will remain a game to these people as long as we are invisible to them. They are insulated, intentionally (try to get close to them), so that they don't have to deal with real people. Until they have to face real Americans, everyday normal people just going about their lives - lives these people are destroying - they will continue to think of us as a game. Out of sight, out of mind.

Posted by: Nancy on February 17, 2011 at 12:28 AM | PERMALINK



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