Political Animal


October 27, 2011 3:00 PM Boehner’s selective ‘concerns’

By Steve Benen

As part of the “We Can’t Wait” campaign, President Obama is pushing as many economic measures as he can using executive branch authority. There are obvious institutional limits, but as we’ve seen this week — on mortgage refinancing, jobs for veterans, reducing student-loan burdens — the White House has some options. They’re not enough to give the economy a major boost, but they’re steps in the right direction.

Not surprisingly, House Speaker John Boehner isn’t happy.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he has “great concerns” that President Obama may be exceeding his constitutional authority in ordering his administration to adjust regulations surrounding “underwater” mortgages and student loans, saying, “this idea that you are just going to go around the Congress is … almost laughable.”

Actually, what’s “laughable” is that a Congress with a 9% approval rating — the lowest since the dawn of modern polling — refuses to even consider passing jobs bills during a jobs crisis, leaving the president to explore other alternatives. Obama has pleaded with Congress to take its responsibilities seriously, but Republicans refuse to act. Of course the president wants to “go around the Congress”; by refusing to govern, Boehner and his cohorts haven’t left him with much of a choice.

“I thought we were a nation of laws and that our country was governed by our Constitution,” Boehner said Thursday on the “Laura Ingraham Show.”

And if Boehner can find any evidence that the president is exceeding his legal authorities, I’m sure we’d all love to see it. In the meantime, if the Speaker would whine less and govern more, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

But Boehner isn’t just wrong; he’s also hypocritical. Obama is using executive orders, for example, to make some modest advances in various policy areas. Boehner may find this “almost laughable” now, but the Speaker was reading from a very different script when George W. Bush was in office.

In January 2008, for example, Boehner applauded a Bush executive order on earmarks, traditionally an issue dealt with in the legislative branch. In December 2008, Boehner urged Bush to issue an executive order — going around the Congress — after Congress failed to pass the Safety at Sea Act.

In June 2007, Boehner was equally thrilled when the Republican president took it upon himself to act on stem-cell policy without input from Congress.

So the question for the Speaker, then, is why it’s “laughable” when Obama uses his authority to help the economy, but it’s fine when Bush used his authority to act on his priorities?

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
  • rikyrah on October 27, 2011 3:03 PM:

    if POTUS is doing something illegal, then IMPEACH HIM, Orange Julius. if you aren't going to do that, then


  • brent on October 27, 2011 3:08 PM:

    If John Boehner finds what the President doing laughable, then he should go ahead and laugh. Laugh out loud if thats what it takes. Whatever makes him fell better, I suppose. He can also go ahead and pretend its not happening if that works for him. Thankfully the beneficiaries of Obama's executive orders don't live inside Boehner's limited imagination.

    If he believes that he has some control over this situation other than to treat it with personal derision, I sincerely invite him to try. Then we can both get a laugh.

  • just bill on October 27, 2011 3:15 PM:


  • Peter C on October 27, 2011 3:17 PM:

    Clearly, Boner, if he's exceeding his authority, you will have no trouble citing chapter and verse. Go ahead, ... we're waiting.

  • bleh on October 27, 2011 3:17 PM:

    So the question for the Speaker, then, is why it’s “laughable” when Obama uses his authority to help the economy, but it’s fine when Bush used his authority to act on his priorities?

    And the answer, of course, is because Bush was a fine upstanding codpiece-wearing Heartland 'Murkin Republican, and Obama is a subversive Keynan socialist communist fascist Democrat.

    Any other questions?

  • FRP on October 27, 2011 3:35 PM:

    Well it is pretty sad when the grand old poo bah of a speaker who appears to have more energy when flustered by the enigmatic President , than by his own industry . If Boehner is considering the weakness most Americans are feeling these last five years how does he reconcile his lassitude in response to the actual suffering of folks unable to play golf or paint themselves or their tents orange ?

  • Josef K on October 27, 2011 3:40 PM:

    And this guy is #3 in the line of succession to the Presidency?

    "President Boehner"? Now there's a laugh for you.

  • Trollop on October 27, 2011 3:41 PM:

    Typical Trollop kneejerk reaction: I live for the day when miserable people like Boner (from Ohio, big surprise!) are no longer part of the problem, or are simply and mercifully, no longer. The collective can no longer afford this bullshit from any of these people.

    How many times can yet another obstructionist clown from Ohio play the same schtick by the audience before the audience starts throwing tomatoes (or hand grenades, for that matter..)?

    Occupy the National Mall.

  • Gandalf on October 27, 2011 3:42 PM:

    FUCK BONER and Ingaham too that sour faced bitch. I'm ashamed to even live in the same state as that shameless hack.

  • Gov't Mule on October 27, 2011 3:48 PM:

    If Jean D'Orange feels that the President is exceeding his legal authority than the Speaker is obligated to start impeachment hearings. Otherwise, the Speaker is violating his own oath of office.

  • PhillyCooke on October 27, 2011 4:41 PM:

    Why are people allowed to go on the Laura Ingraham show without being asked whether they endorse her views on race relations?

  • JohnC on October 27, 2011 7:24 PM:

    When the GOP stops using the filibuster as an extra-constitutional means of requiring a Senatorial legislative supermajority that exists nowhere in the Constitution, maybe we can talk about a "nation of laws" and being "governed by the Constitution."

  • exlibra on October 27, 2011 7:48 PM:

    I'm glad Bane-er has found something to laugh about; I was getting tired of his rusty tears.