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July 23, 2011 8:45 AM Boehner flubs the ‘existence’ of the debt limit

By Steve Benen

House Speaker John Boehner’s Twitter feed was full of chest-thumping posturing last night, with the Ohio Republican whining about “tax increases” and refusing to compromise. It’s not exactly constructive rhetoric.

But there was one item that stood out.

Debt limit exists to force Washington to rein in spending, deal with these tough issues. If @WhiteHouse won’t, we will.

Wait, the Speaker of the House thinks the debt ceiling “exists to force Washington to rein in spending”? Since when?

In fact, this is more than a little bizarre. In 2002, John Boehner voted to raise the debt limit in a clean bill, with no preconditions, with no attempts to rein in spending, and with no effort to “deal with these tough issues.” In 2003, he did the same thing. And then again in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Did Boehner, in all of these votes, simply forget why the debt ceiling “exists”?

Indeed, has Congress ever understood the purpose of the law the way Boehner does? Since 1939, Congress has raised the debt limit 89 times. The issue has come up 89 times, in 89 instances, Congress passed a clean bill, and policymakers never saw this as part of a process to “force Washington to rein in spending.”

It’s almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public won’t know the difference.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • Darsan 54 on July 23, 2011 8:49 AM:

    What you expected a more or less consistent intellectual conceptual framework based on objective, factual and reality-based data to Boner's decision making process?

    Silly voter, Tricks are for Republicans!!

  • c u n d gulag on July 23, 2011 8:50 AM:

    Fact v. Fiction.

    There's no in between -it's either fact or fiction.

    And if you don't have the facts to support you...

  • max on July 23, 2011 8:53 AM:

    "It's almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public won't know the difference."

    The last seven words in the sentence above encapsulates the Republican strategy in every election.

  • Brenna on July 23, 2011 8:54 AM:

    Well Steve, the truth is, "the public" who hate Obama will believe him.

    But that's all he's got. Oh, and Jennifer Rubin. She thinks he's the true adult in all this.

    I can't wait until the tea party house froth weigh in on this. I mean, didn't Boehner and Cantor essentially lie to them? Sell them out? Boehner finally admitted revenue was on the table. I doubt the freshman crazies knew this. The betrayal will certainly incense them.

    And the fact is they would never have voted for it. Boehner would have needed dems to pass a bill. In fact, he still will, no matter what deal is made.

  • Josef K on July 23, 2011 8:55 AM:

    Normally I try to be optimistic about the future. I do have small children to think about and work to provide for.

    Right now, reading this? I'm going to spend the next ten days stockpiling water and staples in anticipation of things falling apart after August 3rd.

    Exactly how did we screw up so badly as a country that we ended up with this idiot in such a position of power?

  • hells littlest angel on July 23, 2011 8:55 AM:

    Boehner was likely at least half in the bag by the time he typed that. Give him credit for no spelling errors.

  • SteveT on July 23, 2011 8:56 AM:

    It's almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public won't know the difference.

    And since Boehner knows that there won't be any counter-argument coming from the corporate-controlled media or from Obama, it's a pretty good strategy.

    It's certainly a better strategy than counting on his opponent to follow a 47 move scenario that ends up with the opponent defeating himself in a game of 11th dimensional chess.

  • Brenna on July 23, 2011 8:58 AM:

    @ hells littlest angel - And he didn't cry at his press conference. Come on, kudos for that (though he looked like he was gonna).

  • markg8 on July 23, 2011 9:14 AM:

    You can leave the "almost" out "Itís almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along". He's not a particularly good extemporaneous speaker but most of his followers have no idea of what he's talking about anyway so his tone and key phrases matter more than the actual whole statement.

  • bigtuna on July 23, 2011 9:20 AM:

    You beg the question .... why do we have this debt limit?

  • DelCapslock on July 23, 2011 9:26 AM:

    Debt limit exists to force Washington to rein in spending, deal with these tough issues. If @WhiteHouse wonít, we will.

    He means it exists to provide a convenient device by which his white Christian base can be made to believe that federal tax dollars will be diverted away from helping any Americans they don't like.

  • stormskies on July 23, 2011 9:30 AM:

    The bottom line is all of this total insanity is the ugly fact that it is American itself that is to blame, all those who have voted to elect all these new 'tea baggers', all those who voted the Repiglicans back into power after 8 years in which they destroyed our economy, and the worlds, once, and all those who even now favor ANY REPIGLICAN OVER ANY DEMOCRAT. This is the fucking bottom line and that bottom line means we have a population of complete imbeciles.

  • Spell Chvck on July 23, 2011 9:32 AM:

    hells littlest angel on July 23, 2011 8:55 AM:

    Boehner was likely at least half in the bag by the time he typed that. Give him credit for no spelling errors.

    Thvncks

  • Josef K on July 23, 2011 9:36 AM:

    From bigtuna @9:20am:

    You beg the question .... why do we have this debt limit?

    "Legislative stupidity" would be my vote.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 23, 2011 9:43 AM:

    It won't matter that Boehner is wrong. The lie is out and has done its damage. Just watch how many wingnuts start using it.

  • charlie on July 23, 2011 9:46 AM:

    "Hoping they wont' know the difference?" they don't know the difference, these are the idiots that put these idiots in office to begin with!

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 23, 2011 9:50 AM:

    @JosephK:

    "Exactly how did we screw up so badly as a country that we ended up with this idiot in such a position of power?"

    The way it always happens: by remaining silent, on the sidelines when the kooks started taking over. When media thinks both sides require equal deference despite one being without reason. When Democrats, out of spinelessness, concede issues like handgun control, taxes, human-caused global warming, etc due to fear of heavily financed groups on the other side.

    America gets the government it deserves. We deserve these shit-for-brains Republicans because we've been too comfortable and cowardly to speak out or do anything about it with regards to the Democrats we support or the Republicans we oppose.

  • SadOldVet on July 23, 2011 9:59 AM:

    It's almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public won't know the difference.

    After watching a couple of the network news programs early this morning, the public probably will not know the difference. They were full of he said - he said and implying the problem was only Obama insisting on more taxes.

  • Skip on July 23, 2011 10:07 AM:

    That adage about fooling some of the people some of the time no longer holds water. Apparently Republicans can be fooled all the damn time.

  • berttheclock on July 23, 2011 10:26 AM:

    Poor, poor Boehner - Why he appears to have lost his tan. Working too hard on flip flopping or did those pesky Guvmint Regs put Man Tan out of business?

    The saddest thing is, apparently, Grover Norquist knows where all of the relatives of the RepuG politicos live.

  • Grumpy on July 23, 2011 11:20 AM:

    bigtuna...
    The debt limit was created so that Congress wouldn't have to specially authorize each instance of borrowing, as a convenience. Or so I read somewhere. Boehner, in all his votes, must have missed that explanation. (I like how Steve catches Boehner being not just wrong but inconsistent.)

    As a stickler, I must also point out the difference between "beg the question" and "raise the question." The point is, they're different.

  • Crissa on July 23, 2011 2:41 PM:

    The Speaker must have forgotten his two budgets he passed earlier this year both require the debt ceiling to be raised.

    I'm not sure how his slip of the purse is now the White House's fault.

  • jjm on July 23, 2011 3:16 PM:

    You said a mouthful, and it is very, very telling:

    "Itís almost as if the House Speaker is just making up nonsense as he goes along, hoping the public wonít know the difference."

    Despite the news media's ridiculous false equivalencies, the fact is the public IS beginning to notice how full of hot air the GOP/TP has been on the supposed "spending" issue.

    The debt whose ceiling must be raised in Bush's. He skipped away, expecting the next guy to clean up his messes, the way his family used to do for him.

    Well, we are not family. We are the people and the GOP/TP has been on this lying binge long enough.

    Even Norquist is growing fearful and trying to eat his words a bit.

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