Political Animal


July 27, 2011 1:05 PM Quote of the Day

By Steve Benen

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is obviously scrambling to secure as much Republican support for his budget plan as possible, and took his sales pitch to Laura Ingraham’s radio show this morning. One line in particular stood out:

A large number of conservative Republicans are opposing Boehner’s proposal, arguing it does not go far enough in reducing government spending.

But Boehner said he couldn’t understand why any Republicans would position themselves with Democrats opposing his plan.

“Barack Obama hates it, Harry Reid hates it, Nancy Pelosi hates it,” he said, naming off the Democratic leadership.

Now, at a certain level, it makes sense that the House Speaker would try to rally his side by leveraging partisan feelings. Boehner probably figures Republicans will be more likely to support a plan that Democrats “hate.”

But let’s not lose sight of the larger context here. The United States is in the midst of a crisis of Republicans’ making, and a potentially catastrophic deadline is just days away. We have a Republican-led House, a Democratic-led Senate, and a Democratic White House, so the nation will need a solution that can generate approval from all three institutions.

Speaker Boehner, meanwhile, isn’t just abandoning the search for a bipartisan solution; he’s publicly bragging about pushing a plan he knows isn’t a bipartisan solution.

I support this leads to two questions some enterprising reporter may want to ask the Speaker:

1. If you know the Senate leadership and the White House hate your plan, why are you intent on pushing it six days before Aug. 2?

2. On Monday night, you used the word “bipartisan” five times. If bipartisanship is important, why are you bragging about Democratic opposition to your plan?

Say hello to Boehner Brand Bipartisanship: the kind where one side gets what it wants, and the other should expect to be blamed for wanting a compromise.

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.


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  • Mitch on July 27, 2011 1:12 PM:

    This is Republican Brand Bipartisanship; his royal orangeness does not hold a copyright on this. Actually compared to the House Repugs that he's complaining about, Boehner is downright moderate.

  • Live Free or Die on July 27, 2011 1:14 PM:

    Gene Sterling was asked by Andrea Mitchell if the 14th amendment door was still closed. He talked about still trying to reach a comprise. He did not say explicitly that it was still off the table. Dont know if I read too much into it.

  • c u n d gulag on July 27, 2011 1:18 PM:

    Obama, schmoba... Reid, schmied... Pelosi, schmelosi...

    Ah, but does George Soros hate it?

  • bdop4 on July 27, 2011 1:23 PM:

    To answer your two questions: HE DOESN'T CARE IF IT PASSES. In fact, he's banking on the Senate rejecting it so he can blame Dems for "ruining the economy."

    The only thing he cares about is getting the House to pass his bill.

    His picture should be placed next to the word "craven" in the dictionary.

    Are we Americans or Merkans? We shall soon find out.

  • Rick Taylor on July 27, 2011 1:23 PM:

    I think when Boehner uses the word bipartisan now, he means that both House and Senate Republicans support it.

  • delNorte on July 27, 2011 1:26 PM:

    Up until a few minutes ago, I thought that a Republican filibuster of the Reid plan in the Senate would be foolish, but, should Boehner's plan pass the House, I can now see it happening. It's the logical outcome of 2 years of Republican obstructionism in the Senate.

    Then, it's either stalemate, or a vote on Boehner's plan, which I don't see happening, either.

    I understand why the White House is shying away from the 14th Amendment solution - but, surely, if all other options are exhausted and Congress is locked in a deadlock, what other choice is there?

  • NealD on July 27, 2011 1:28 PM:

    I would love for someone to ask Boehner what in his Bill is a compromise? What is in this Bill that reflects a willingness to work with the Democrats? What can Dems point to in this Bill that says he has considered their side of the argument?

  • hornblower on July 27, 2011 1:31 PM:

    The Republican Party is in the process of committing suicide. The traditionalists know that the teabaggers can never get a majority but they were prepared to use them to get the House. Unfortunately for the Trads. the baggers are beyond even cynical dialogue.
    In spite of carping from the left (Jon Stewart et al)the President is playing this right. Every time the Speaker, a traditionalist all the way, meets with these folks he must ask himself if this devil's bargain was worth it. For the Democrats it is a dream come true.

  • SadOldVet on July 27, 2011 1:32 PM:

    @ Rick Taylor...

    Correction. When the Boner says bipartisan, he means that both the far-right congress critters and the really wacked out far-right congress critters will agree.

  • Chris Darrouzet on July 27, 2011 1:33 PM:

    I smell the rhetorical-Rat in the GOPs posturing about their struggle with the Tea-Part Congresspersons in their ranks. Their strategy is to reframe the whole question of compromise as one between Boehner and the Tea-Party Right in Congress, where John Boehner and the great GOP Leadership are the ones who decide that, for the sake of the nation, some compromise is required, some "sacrifice" as Boehner has put it. They will struggle mightily down to wire only to prevail with the 11:th hour passage of this compromise plan that Boehner's plan is being portrayed. Then, only then, they turn to express Complete Astonishment to learn that the Dems and Obama would chose their partisan interests over the welfare of the nation and are not prepared to accept their legislation.

    The Dems and Obama need to make it clear 100 times over that the Boehner plan is not acceptable and is not a compromise with the other majority who sit in the other Congressional body, the Senate, or with the President as the duly elected leader of the Executive branch. The GOP has opted to play their most insidious Roveian card of pretending to ignore the relevance of the Senate or of the Obama Presidency. They are this week distracting attention away from their attempt to impose their total program when they control only one half of one of the two representative bodies our Constitution set up, as well as attempting to discount that Obama was elected President. That the Dems are not hammering home these points is a case of more tactical blunders on the Dems side.

  • sduffys on July 27, 2011 1:36 PM:

    Seriously now - Steve - you're right on the mark. Will there be any reporter that asks this.. better yet, if such a reported exists; the (not-)fearless Speaker will not come within 100 feet.

  • Dash_7 on July 27, 2011 1:58 PM:

    This is beyond frustrating. Why, oh why, can't democrats just go on television all day every day and repeat over and over "Republicans refuse to make the wealthy and corporations pay more and want to cut social security and medicare"?

    I can't believe that democrats are even considering cuts to social security and medicare. This pisses me off to no end.

  • Live Free or Die on July 27, 2011 2:02 PM:

    So perhaps the best case scenario is if Boehner get it through the House, the Senate vetoes the Reid bill, and the 14th is in full effect.

  • NonyNony on July 27, 2011 2:17 PM:

    I thought we'd established by now that when Boehner says "bipartisan" he means two parties: the Republican Party and the Tea Party.

  • Brenna on July 27, 2011 2:17 PM:

    A lot of people criticized Obama for taking this to the people, but I think it was a smart move. You can be sure they're talking about this at work and so forth.

    Also, the tea party have taken over the gov't, like litte dictators, trying to destruct it. And they still have another year and half. I suspect by the 2012 election, people will be ready to run them out of town.

  • Michael on July 27, 2011 2:20 PM:

    Unfortunately , tho, the conservative Suprem court may be what they are all aiming for, when Obama uses the 14 th amendment...It has shown no compunction to follow the rule of law...

  • jjm on July 27, 2011 2:21 PM:


    Boehner admits that GOP wants chaos so then they can work their dirty will.

    How can ANYONE fault Obama when this is what he is up against here: Boehner says his own party wants chaos to reign so they can do the remainder of the financial wreckage and 'shock doctrine' lunacy they've long desired.

    The so-called Tea Party are merely recycled 1930s fascists, whose main goal WAS to 'sow chaos' in democratic institutions so they could take them over and reshape them according to their dictator's will.

    Let's not let that happen here -- they've done enough damage to our democratic institutions already-- if we let them continue, I see true fascism coming to us.

    If Obama's demonstrating that he offered legitimate concessions is the way to stop Republicans from lying that all he wanted to do was raise taxes, get a blank check, and refused to bargain, then I say that was smart of him. He hasn't actually made any concessions yet, but he HAS managed to get a big chunk of the public on his side with this approach. See the new DK poll

    I doubt the Tea Party will win next year: some of the oomph has already gone out of them. The Kochs even refused to fund some events recently.

  • BrklynLibrul on July 27, 2011 2:24 PM:

    I agree with Chris Darouzzet on this one. The GOP's Endgame strategy is becoming clear: pass the Boehner plan and demand the Senate pass it and Obama sign it or the country will plummet into a Depression overnight. Frankly, I think Wall Street and S&P are in on the scam as well.

    The Republicans are betting that Obama and the Dems will cave on Monday, August 1st, and give them draconian cuts to entitlements with $0.00 revenue increases and the chance to do this all over again with the budget and then again with a new debt ceiling debate in a few months. They know -- better than any of us -- that Beltway Dems could care less about their own voters; or to paraphrase David Frum, elected Democrats loathe their base. Why? Beacuse middle-class and working-class folks are LOSERS, don'tcha know.

  • Bokonon on July 27, 2011 2:29 PM:

    Boner knows his caucus well. "Democrats hate it" is the best way to sell something, content be damned. It makes their brains shut down completely.

    And out of necessity, Boner is having to built his coalition from the right - and then try to use coercion to attract enough votes to pass the legislation, and bend both the Senate and the President to the House's will.

    In fact, coercing the Democrats to vote for the GOP's unpopular policies is what this whole hostage drama is about in the first place. The GOP can't pass the Ryan Plan, and they can't justify their own increasingly unpopular policies to the American people ... but they can't develop any other plans. And they are facing a potentially enormous electoral backlash. So their only hope is force.

    And then they hope that with the right messaging and the right TV advertisements, the American public will forget what just happened, and will reward the GOP as being strong and principled and "winners" during the next election cycle.

    Worked several months ago, when the GOP took unemployment benefits hostage until Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, didn't it? Did Obama get credit for cutting taxes? Noooooo. But did Boner get credit for screwing the President and achieving the GOP's aims? Yesssss.

    Everyone loves winners. And gangsters, when they are on a roll and winning.

  • therese on July 27, 2011 3:59 PM:

    I believe taking this to the general public is an excellent idea. Mess with the Social Security and you mess with the entire voting public. not only will you effect the retired citizens but with their family as they will have to come forward and help their parents with what was cut from their benefits. Now how many people will vote for you in the fall, stupid?

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