Political Animal


July 26, 2011 8:30 AM Boehner’s truth allergy

By Steve Benen

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) looked pretty small last night, delivering a weak speech that inadvertently bolstered all of President Obama’s arguments about GOP intransigence. But for me, the most striking thing about Boehner’s address wasn’t the weak content and poor delivery; it was his breathtaking dishonesty.

If one were to create a drinking game in which viewers took a shot every time the Speaker lied, the “winner” would be in the hospital this morning with alcohol poisoning.

Let’s take a few minutes to list the top 10 most egregious falsehoods in Boehner’s speech.

10. “Millions are looking for work, have been for some time, and the spending binge going on in Washington is a big part of the reason why.”

Nonsense. There hasn’t been a spending “binge,” and public investments improve job creation.

9. “President Obama came to Congress in January and requested business as usual — yet another routine increase in the national debt limit — we in the House said ‘not so fast.’”

Making it seem as if Obama is the one requesting a debt-ceiling increase is fundamentally dishonest. Worse, in January, Boehner wanted a routine increase, too.

8. “Here’s what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for.”

Actually, the Affordable Care Act saves taxpayers billions of dollars. That’s the opposite of a “spending binge.”

7. “A ‘stimulus’ bill that was more effective in producing material for late-night comedians than it was in producing jobs.”

In reality, the stimulus helped stop the bleeding, while creating growth and millions of jobs.

6. “A national debt that has gotten so out of hand it has sparked a crisis without precedent in my lifetime or yours.”

The national debt is perfectly manageable at its current size. The unprecedented crisis is from Boehner and his caucus; not the debt itself.

5. “I want you to know I made a sincere effort to work with the president to identify a path forward that would implement the principles of Cut, Cap, & Balance in a manner that could secure bipartisan support and be signed into law. I gave it my all. Unfortunately, the president would not take yes for an answer.”

If Obama completely rejected every aspect of the right-wing CC&B fantasy, then House Republicans weren’t saying “yes.”

4. “The president has often said we need a ‘balanced’ approach — which in Washington means: we spend more, you pay more.”

Actually, Obama has called for trillions in spending cuts.

3. “The president is adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs.”

Boehner’s plan, unveiled yesterday, makes no fundamental changes to our entitlement programs. Obama, meanwhile, has presented several offers that make significant cuts to entitlement programs. That’s not opinion; it’s just reality — which Boehner is no doubt aware of.

2. “The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today.”

Obama isn’t asking for a “blank check.” The nation needs a debt-ceiling increase to pay for the things we’ve already bought. Going forward, Congress will maintain its power of the purse — the administration can’t just spend whatever it wants — so as GOP whining goes, this is just gibberish.

1. “If the President signs [the House Republican plan], the ‘crisis’ atmosphere he has created will simply disappear.”

Obama created the crisis environment? The Speaker’s speechwriters really should stop using Orwell as an instruction manual.

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.


Post a comment
  • POed Lib on July 26, 2011 8:34 AM:

    Why did the Orange Turd have a platform, anyway? He is NOT THE FUCKING PRESIDENT! He should NOT get equal time. WhAT IS THIS SHIT, ANYWAY?

  • Live Free or Die on July 26, 2011 8:37 AM:

    Steve, I think you are wrong. Americans are dumb and will forget about who is to blame. The media are already saying both sides. Romney will be talking about jobs in swing states next year; Obama will be chained to DC talking about the debt ceiling as the GOP strings it out till October. How do you think he will be able to attend fund raisers with the debt ceiling hanging over his head?

  • DAY on July 26, 2011 8:38 AM:

    You're fulminating, Steve. Preaching to the choir.
    Writer something that Rachel will pick up, and run with.

  • c u n d gulag on July 26, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Look, Speaker Orancicle HAS to get up there and lie.

    The truth hurts, and he might start crying.

    Is there at least ONE of them who's not a lying sack of sh*t?
    Never mind, that was a rhetorical question.

  • J on July 26, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Boehner was in a tight spot, he read a speech which had obviously been written for him by one of the radicals, he looked uncomfortable and seemed to be reading it quickly so he could get the hell out of there. I almost feel sorry for him, he is being told what to do at every turn, so pathetic that he called Limbaugh to get the OK for his plan.

  • FRP on July 26, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Mr Benen writes the by the numbers post so the craven posturing , is made visible .
    There can be no other reason for a painful listing of poisonous , mind numbing nonsense .

  • Danp on July 26, 2011 8:43 AM:

    67 million people voted for Obama, and a new health care system was at the top of his stated priorities during the 2008 campaign, even if the media chose to focus on Jeramiah Wright, Bill Ayers, SNL/Sarah Palin and flag pins.

  • Live Free or Die on July 26, 2011 8:44 AM:

    FPR. Steve has been on fire lately. No need to bash him.

  • MichMan on July 26, 2011 8:46 AM:

    I'm pretty sure Boehner's speech was written by Karl Rove - it was uncharacteristic in a number of ways for Boehner and it had several of the hallmarks (turn your weakness to a strength, co-opt your enemies slogans) of Rove.

  • Joe Walsh on July 26, 2011 8:47 AM:

    Thanks for being the voice of reason. But I fear you are the only one. I try not to be cynical, but I think we are circling the drain for real this time. You can't win a fact-free argument and that has been what has been going on since the current President was elected.

  • Brenna on July 26, 2011 8:51 AM:

    I DO NOT feel sorry Boehner. He's a blatant liar, weak, and a drunk. And he's a career politician. I hope to God he's at least voted out as Speaker, if not voted out completely in 2012.

  • Live Free or Die on July 26, 2011 8:54 AM:

    Can anybody point to any evidence that Americans will remember that the GOP was at fault? The latest poll out of Michigan showed Obama and Mitt within 1 point of each other. Obama saved Michigan. Mitt was strongly against the auto bailout.

  • g. powell on July 26, 2011 8:54 AM:

    Give me a break, 10 measly shots would not send Boenher to the hospital with alcohol poisoning. He has that for breakfast!

  • golack on July 26, 2011 8:55 AM:

    Yeah, it was just a list of polled to death talking points...but they will resonate with the Tea Party and the MSM won't question them. You won't be called out for blatant lying.

  • Bill on July 26, 2011 8:57 AM:

    Actually Boehner's statement last night and on Friday following his ending of talks with Obama looked like the handiwork of Frank Luntz. 'See the forest for the trees' and the dismissive mantra of 'he asked for a clean bill' are pure Luntz, stupid but simple and easy to remember.

    To follow Steve's earlier post, I watched all three cable networks and got largely what I expected from Fox, and MSNBC (though with a lot of silly complaining about Obama not being more supportive of Reid plan), and was also stunned by the vapid CNN commentary. Were they watching the same speeches? Everything Obama said was demonstrably true, and if it is partisan to say extreme 'new' House Members are preventing a deal, then so be it.

    Gergen seems to me to have not gotten enough love from Obama and for at least a year has found new and increasingly weird ways to criticize him. He should have lunch with Cornell West. The others on CNN seemed to be suffering from blind umpire syndrome, under the belief that they must criticize both sides regardless of the merits of what has been said.

    The clueless Piers Morgan came closest to the truth when he likened the current situation to the Bay of Pigs. He meant the Cuban Missile Crisis, which I thought was more apt in capturing Obama (as Kennedy) trying to appeal to Boehner (as Kruschev) to reconsider the Grand Bargain, ignoring or at least setting aside all the dreary rhetoric that accompanied Cut, Cap and Balance, and which we are doomed to hear again today and tomorrow on the House floor.

  • JEA on July 26, 2011 8:58 AM:

    [Comment removed]

  • Anonymous on July 26, 2011 9:02 AM:

    JEA. This is stupid. Vote for a repub? So they can give me more tax cuts and eliminate Medicare?

  • mallen on July 26, 2011 9:02 AM:

    All politiciians are of course, politicians. But Boner is 100% politician, 0% real person with real convictions. I've never heard a single word from him that didn't sound like it was written by a public relations/advertising pro. He has a smoker enhanced radio announcer voice, and that's all you get: a richly intoned bunch of lies and distortions.

    Even the most fair and balanced (I mean for real, PBS style) sort of news report on his little speech should be just like what Steve wrote. It's the job of the press, reporting the truth without necessarily taking sides.It's just pathetic that even the NewsHour will no doubt just do a he-said-she-said report.

  • zandru on July 26, 2011 9:03 AM:

    Bo(eh)ner looked pretty small

    He also looked color blind, or maybe fashion senseless, with that blue shirt and bright green polka-dot tie.

  • 3reddogs on July 26, 2011 9:07 AM:

    I thought his biggest whopper (and he said it TWICE) was that CC&B passed the House with bipartisan support. 5 Dems out of 193 voted for it and that's considered bipartisan support???

  • Ron Byers on July 26, 2011 9:08 AM:


    The problem is the Orange Man simply repeated standard Republican talking points the MSM has long since accepted as truth.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on July 26, 2011 9:14 AM:

    As usual, Steve Benen distorts the facts about the speeches that Obama and Congressman Boehner delivered last night.

    For an unbiased evaluation of the speeches, there are many sources who are not ObamaBots.

    The liberal CNN provides multiple unbiased analyses from neutral commentators Gloria Bolger, David Gergen, and Erik Erikson.


    Even in the ultra liberal Washington Post, the completely unbiased Jennifer Rubin is allowed to present a clear perspective on the speeches.


    To quote from Jennifer's unbiased perspective...
    President Obama's decision to give a speech tonight was proof that things have not gone well for him. He threw (another) tantrum in the Friday news conference, he turned down a bipartisan deal presented to him Sunday and thereby took himself out of the limelight. Tonight's speech was not intended to solve the impasse but to make sure Obama would get credit if a deal is struck and avoid blame if it is not.

    It was a speech entirely divorced from reality. The Senate Democrats can't pass tax hikes. The grand bargain can't get through the Congress with jumbo tax hikes. It is he who rejected a deal that had the agreeement of House and Senate leaders.

    Then it was House Speaker John Boehner's turn. He touted his small-business background and made clear that ordinary people don't get to simply borrow more and more. He reminded us that Obama wanted a clean debt bill, but the House insisted on a new way of doing business. Then he recapped the president�s intransigence:...

    And he made the key point: You see, there is no stalemate in Congress. The House has passed a bill to raise the debt limit with bipartisan support. And this week, while the Senate is struggling to pass a bill filled with phony accounting and Washington gimmicks, we will pass another bill one that was developed with the support of the bipartisan leadership of the U.S. Senate.

    All of this from the liberal media!!! Then you should read and hear what the moderate truthtellers at Fox News are saying. It is fortunate for the American people that even the liberal media will not accept Obama's intransigence and lies.

    It is great to be an American among a highly and accurately informed American public!

  • Kathryn on July 26, 2011 9:15 AM:

    JEA, I suspect you're a right wing plant, you'll vote for a Republican so they can finish off Medicare, Social Security while making it impossible to ever raise taxes on the gazillionaires who send their cherubs to camp in private jets. The GOP wants to be able to change regulations for S.S., Medicare, with a simple majority 50%+1 but it will take a 2/3 majority to touch taxes for the mega rich or tax loophole for hedge funds, oil interest. How does that strike you JAE?

    If the President gets the bully pulpit because he's the President, why does Boehner also get a bully pulpit, since when?

  • SYSPROG on July 26, 2011 9:16 AM:

    JEA? Go ahead and vote Republican and this vote will be the LEAST of your problems. Boehner flat out LIED last night and the cables brought on MORONS to 'dispute' the President. If that's what you want for this country and keep buying into LIES instead of substance YOU are the jerk.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 26, 2011 9:18 AM:

    You're wrong Steve. It doesn't matter one bit that Boehner was lying, deceitful, ... His audience will buy it because the nuance of the matter is beyond their low-information about it. He looked "decisive" in their eyes. The truth just doesn't matter anymore.

  • Fr33d0m on July 26, 2011 9:19 AM:

    The response to 5 is weak, should refer to Repugnicons getting offers that give them most of what they want and saying "No" to all of them. CCB isn't giving the Pres any of what he wants--at all. So of course he isn't being offered anything to say "Yes" to.

    Number 2 should more directly point out that the increase is to cover what the Speaker's caucus voted for.

  • Danp on July 26, 2011 9:21 AM:

    Even the most fair and balanced (I mean for real, PBS style)

    You must be watching a different PBS than I. The News Hour does a whole lot more "he said, she said, you decide" reporting than I would qualify as journalism. Or maybe by "fair and balanced", you merely mean divided opinion without facts to cloud up the issues.

  • T2 on July 26, 2011 9:22 AM:

    The mere fact that the Media feel that they have to present a GOP response to any presidential speech is a terrible precedent. I don't recall that during the Bush years?
    But it's the way - both sides to blame - same old politics - equal/balanced bad. My red state newspaper basically blamed "congress" for the impasse and hinted that Obama was not part of the solution. That, unfortunately is what the general public hears/sees.
    They are told both sides are at fault, and they believe that...and get on with their daily lives.

  • Mr. Serf Man on July 26, 2011 9:26 AM:

    @ JEA I realize it may be Phishing for reaction or/ satire, but if you want to see what happens when you have a republican super majority and a teabagger governor, come visit us in Florida.
    House of horrors ? Universal ain't got nuthin' on this.

  • golack on July 26, 2011 9:35 AM:

    RPOV nice job ;)

  • ElegantFowl on July 26, 2011 9:44 AM:

    If you supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if you supported the Bush tax cuts, if you supported Medicare part D (paying the asking price for drugs instead of negotiating), if you supported the 2008 TARP bailout, if you supported the 2009 Recovery act, then you must support paying the bill for those expenses: raise the debt ceiling, or debate honestly why you want to welsh on them.

    Or you should support raising the debt ceiling because there really shouldn't be any question about it, no matter how you read the 14th amendment.

    Or you should support raising the debt ceiling because borrowing money at negative interest rates is an extraordinarily good deal and opportunity for public investment, and will force private banks and corporations to put their money to work instead of sitting on it.

  • Kane on July 26, 2011 9:49 AM:

    8. “Here’s what we got for that spending binge: a massive health care bill that most Americans never asked for.”

    In 2008 candidate Obama campaigned on his health care bill. An overwhelming majority of voters supported Obama and his health care bill.

  • Bartender on July 26, 2011 9:50 AM:

    So let me get this straight - Boehner and the GOP are having their position papers proof read by Rush Limbaugh to, in their lost minds, avert a debt crisis? Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-hee-hee-ho-ho-ha-ha-ah-ha-ha-ho-ho-hee-hee-ha-ha-ha-hee-hee...

  • berttheclock on July 26, 2011 9:52 AM:

    Yes, RPOV, please, let us know which Comedy Club you will be headlining, this week.

  • Trollop on July 26, 2011 9:54 AM:

    I couldn't believe I was watching either.. Obama sounded like he was trying to educate grade 2 children and Boner lied right out of the gate and continued to lie badly for 5 more minutes. It is difficult to lie like that, I have to give him some credit. I saw it on the liberalest channel of all with Chris Cornhole and Melissa Harris-Perry; I had to agree with Harris-Parry when she like I thought the first Obama talking point was the Republican plan. I should have voted for the pants-suit I guess; why do I get the feeling that Clinton would have handled this teatard stupidity very differently? Oh well, you get what you voted for. It was that pretentious 2:00 am commercial that blew out the Hill thing for me.. Great! Now I guess my 401k (unemployment insurance) is a goner for sure this round, huh? I realize that that sounds pretty selfish of me..

  • bdop4 on July 26, 2011 9:55 AM:

    Boehner's going "all in" for the idiocracy. He's betting the house that most Merkans don't know WTF is going on.

    I'de say his odds are about 50-50.

    Sorry, but this whole situation is very depressing.

  • Joe Friday on July 26, 2011 9:56 AM:

    Be thankful, at least Speaker Blubber didn't cry.

  • Neo on July 26, 2011 10:00 AM:

    "I love these folks who helped get us in this mess and then suddenly say, 'Well, this is Obama's economy,' That's fine. Give it to me! My job is to solve problems, not to stand on the sidelines and harp and gripe."

  • PTate in MN on July 26, 2011 10:06 AM:

    I envy the Republican ability to create snappy selling points; "cut, cap and balance" is just sexy. As policy it would be a complete and total disaster, but doesn't it sound efficient? It sounds like "stop, drop and roll"--something that will save lives when people are on fire. It gives the Republicans and the media the sexy soundbite they need to perpetuate the narrative.

    I appreciate the list, Steve. Somehow we have to break through the Republican frame (that Obama is a tax-and-spend liberal who has made the economy worse) without the help of either Obama or the media. Perhaps lists like this, with point by point rebuttals, will help.

  • Johnny Canuck on July 26, 2011 10:28 AM:

    If one were to create a drinking game in which viewers took a shot every time the Speaker lied, the “winner” would be in the hospital this morning with alcohol poisoning.

    Understatement: replace "winner" with "all contestants"

  • Sadie on July 26, 2011 10:39 AM:

    "cut, cap and balance" is just sexy.

    Now you're talking, baby.

    "stop, drop and roll"--

    Your place or mine.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on July 26, 2011 10:40 AM:

    Folks. Get used to it: THE TRUTH DOESN'T MATTER ANYMORE.

    And Democrats won't even fight for it. They're too damned spineless. We're going down.

  • JEA on July 26, 2011 11:17 AM:

    So my comment is deleted, but of course people are allowed to call ME a jerk.

    I thought personal attacks were out of bounds, Mr. Benen???

    I guess that only applies if you tow the party line here.

    And we all know whose water you carry.

    "Tolerant" liberals turn out to be as "tolerant" as conservatives are with those who disagree with them.

    As for next year's election, a lot of people are going to be pulling the lever next to the "R" candidate out of disgust at the current situation because the "R"s have done such a good job presenting their case and the "D"s have done such a lousy job presenting theirs.

    Which falls directly as the feet of the top "D" in town, Mr. Obama.

    I am not a "right-wing plant." I am an independent voter disgusted with the entire govt right now. And there are a lot like me saying a pox on both their houses.

    Maybe I won't vote "R" next year. Perhaps I'll waste my vote and vote for a third-party candidate. Or maybe I just won't vote at all.

    And perhaps McConnell was right when he said "elections haven't worked."

    Feel free to delete this one comment too, Mr. Benen.

    I dare you.

  • Old Uncle Dave on July 26, 2011 11:20 AM:

    re: "moderate truthtellers at Fox News"

    Time for your meds.

  • kevo on July 26, 2011 11:23 AM:

    In our future,
    when discussing how low
    a soul can possibly go,
    the Boehner speech
    of last night
    will be the base referenced!

    I, for the life of me,
    haven't seen such
    deplorable duplicity displayed
    so dynamically behind a dais
    as I witnessed
    the witless Mr. Boehner yesterday! -Kevo

  • Skip on July 26, 2011 11:24 AM:

    By God, you got us there, RPOV. Wow. Congratulations.

    Well, at least liberal media is allowed to say what they want, and that includes both negative and positive critique about the issues. Never once have I heard anything positive from a Republican when it comes to anyone else’s policies but their own. You included. Obama’s intransigence and lies? That is laughable and pathetic coming from someone who can’t, nae refuses to acknowledge the forthright ugliness from his/her own party. You stand in judgment of anyone but those who represent you, and you spew the word bias and distortion? I am laughing at you right now, laughing. Because you can’t let go of your own bias long enough to even make a rational post. Let’s hear your ever-so-clever take on Boehner’s speech….[sound of crickets]

    Obamabots? Who are they? I haven’t seen anyone here march to Obama’s tune in perfect sync the way I saw Republicans march to the Bush song without deviation or question. Criticism of Obama is as clearly written about here as is his good points. And as much as it grates on you, he has done good work in areas, while making mistakes in others. The intelligent knowledgeable people who post here have written about both aspects of his presidency. That you call such honesty Obamabots shows what you choose to focus on, that you can’t stand to hear his good points, and in your bias, only want to pound endlessly on his mistakes. It must be wonderful to be such a perfect armchair critic.

    When you stop pretending Obama is 100% E-VIL and start admitting to the wild-eyed antics of your party on this site, then maybe I will respect your input. But until that far day, yours is just more of the undeservedly gloating rhetoric that has torn this nation apart. Again, congratulations.

  • Skip on July 26, 2011 11:35 AM:

    "Tolerant" liberals turn out to be as "tolerant" as conservatives are with those who disagree with them."

    If you are going to give us a piece of your mind, couldn't you at least use a fresh or original thought, Jea?

  • JEA on July 26, 2011 11:39 AM:

    Skip, you focus on exactly what I expected to be focused on.

  • FoxyOldBroad on July 26, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Just a note to #8: The American people 66 million of us voted for President Obama. One of his campaign pledges was to enact a health care reform bill.

    You know people who drink a lot often have memory loss.

  • Joan Doman on July 26, 2011 5:16 PM:

    Boehner also said that the Senate was falsifying documents and information! From what I heard he was, one lie after another. It's time to clean house!

  • johnd on July 26, 2011 5:17 PM:

    What about the five votes out of 230 or something on the cut cap balance which Boehner claimed was "bipartisian support". He had a national prime time audience most of whom dont follow this stuff closely so he took advantage and lied. Its so sick the way the Republicans take advantage of people who simply don't pay attention.

  • Skip on July 26, 2011 5:26 PM:

    Yes, Jea. I did indeed focus on the only thing I have of you, the words you post here. I made no assumptions, no accusations, but simply made a request that you post something other than a regurgitated generalization thought up by someone else.


  • Ron A. Zajac on July 26, 2011 6:59 PM:

    Dug the list. My only contention was with #10:

    There was a spending binge, alright: Under Bush II.

    It's an enormous tribute to the power of political marketing that the average American is still so in thrall to party posturing that they'll vote their split brains and elect a Republican so 1) they can feel like it was a vote for fiscal conservatism, while 2) secretly knowing full well that there will be a total cocaine party budget busting blowout for economic elites.

    Lower class pipe dreams of scaling those vertiginous heights Reel Soon Now perpetuate this hellspawned political state of affairs.

  • Steve Miller on July 26, 2011 7:00 PM:

    What I would like to know is where are all the jobs that was created from the TAX CUTS that the GOP kepts takeing about. I know there at Mcdonlds & Jack in the box