Political Animal


October 28, 2011 8:00 AM What ‘giving up’ on governing looks like

By Steve Benen

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) generated a little news yesterday, complaining on Laura Ingraham’s radio show about President Obama taking unilateral steps to boost the economy. But there was something else he said that also stood out for me.

“There is nothing that has disappointed me more over the last eight weeks than to watch the President of the United States basically give up on the economy, and give up on the American people, decide he’s going to quit governing, and spend his entire next 14 months campaigning,” Boehner said. […]

“If the president is serious, he ought to be up here working with us to find common ground to solve the issues that the American people want us to solve,” Boehner said.

The Speaker’s interest in what “the American people want” is touching, isn’t it? Polls show overwhelming, bipartisan support for saving public-sector jobs, investing in infrastructure, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more in taxes — ideas that Boehner refuses to even consider — but he nevertheless feels comfortable claiming the moral high ground on respecting the public’s wishes. This from a Speaker who’s brought more anti-abortion bills to the House floor than jobs bills.

It’s almost amusing.

But I’m especially interested in this notion that it’s the president who’s decided to “quit governing.” The last time I checked, Obama has been taking his case directly to the electorate, urging Americans to contact Congress and push lawmakers to act, because as the new White House mantra notes, “we can’t wait.” Indeed, the president’s speech invariably notes that the next election is still more than a year away, and the nation needs action now.

That doesn’t sound like someone who’s chosen to “give up on the American people.” It actually sounds like the opposite. As Alan Pyke put it, “If anything, Obama’s giving up on Boehner.”

Meanwhile, Markos Moulitsas posted the work schedule the Speaker’s office released for the House of Representatives in the coming year. In January, for example, the House will work a grand total of six days. By April, that total will soar to eight days of work. Every month in 2012, the House will get at least one week off, and in many cases, two. (In both August and October, House members will get four weeks off.)

The goal of the House GOP leadership, apparently, is to make this an almost-literal do-nothing Congress.

So, remind me, Mr. Speaker. Who’s decided to “quit governing”?

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
  • c u n d gulag on October 28, 2011 8:12 AM:

    Shorter Boehner:
    The less we do for the country, the more we do for our party!

    Party over country!

  • max on October 28, 2011 8:16 AM:

    Did Laura Ingram hand him a box of tissues in case he got emotional again?

  • Live Free or Die on October 28, 2011 8:21 AM:

    Bohner is angry that his Grand Plan has collapsed. The GOP plan was to have Obama tied up in DC with the Super Congress arguing over debt reduction, while the GOP candidates go to swing stages bashing Obama on jobs. We were not supposed to be talking about a jobs bill at this time. But Obama turned it around on them, and now the GOP are begging Obama to go back to DC, so they can tie him down.

  • FRP on October 28, 2011 8:26 AM:

    Don't hate me because I am rich
    Don't hate me because I am a tool
    Don't hate representation of money over people
    Don't hate narrow emotional metaphysical questions
    Don't hate the absence of A N Y material assistance for the downtrodden

    As Randy Newman expands on the dichotomy of envy

    No one likes us , I don't know why
    We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
    But all around even our old friends put us down
    Let's drop the big one and see what happens

    We give them money but are they grateful ?
    No they're spiteful and they're hateful
    They don't respect us so let's surprise them

    We'll drop the big one and pulverize them

    Poor poor pitiful Speaker , sigh

    Lay his head on the railroad tracks
    And wait for the Double "E"
    But the railroad don't run no more
    Poor, poor pitiful Speaker

  • dricey on October 28, 2011 8:34 AM:

    It all depends on how Boehner defines "the American people". I suggest that in his eyes, and those of Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, "the American people" consists solely of two guys named "Koch".

  • blondie on October 28, 2011 8:43 AM:

    The calendar visual that Daily Kos posted is striking, comparing the work schedule in a normal job (assuming you're lucky enough to have one) to the House schedule.

    But that's what you get when you have part-time politicians who are full-time fundraisers ...

  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 28, 2011 8:43 AM:

    "Itís almost amusing."
    Well no it isn't, considering that was the only soundbite I saw on the NOOZE.
    This probably constitutes the depth and understanding of the issue by Mr. and Mrs Lo-Info voter
    Obama ...campaigning...his fault is what they hear.

  • hells littlest angel on October 28, 2011 8:44 AM:

    Well, drunks are like that.

  • Ladyhawke on October 28, 2011 8:55 AM:


    The GOP keeping millions unemployed to put one man out of work.


    Shortly after gaining the House of Representatives in 2010 the new Speaker of the House, John Boehner, made the welcome claim that the primary purpose of the Republican Party was to increase employment. His exact words were:

    "We're going to have a relentless focus on creating jobs."

    The following, therefore, is a chronological list of legislative activities by the GOP beginning 2-10-2011. I'm sorry to report that none, so far, have resulted in a single new job being created in America.

    (1) Attempted curtailing of abortion rights.

    (2) Attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood.

    (3) Attempted defunding of NPR.

    (4) Investigating Muslims.

    (5) Declaring English as America's Official Language.

    (6) Reaffirming "In God We Trust". Yawn.

    (7) 3-28-2011: Challenging AARP's tax-exempt status.

    (8) 4-1-2011: Approved defunct funding for failed religious schools.

    (9) 4-6-2011: Attempt to destroy Medicaid.

    (10) 4-8-2011: Attempt to destroy Planned Parenthood.

    (11) 4-11-2011: Planning on shutting down the government

    (12) 4-13-2011: Attempt to destroy the EPA.

    (13) 4-15-2011: Attempting to eliminate financial counseling.

    (14) 4-18-2011: Passed a House budget that gives $4 trillion in tax cuts to the rich.

    (15) 4-20-2011: Spent $500,000 to discriminate against gays.


    More examples here:


  • Peter C on October 28, 2011 9:31 AM:

    It's an old trick: accuse your rival of your worst fault BEFORE your rival mentions it. Then, when you are rightly accused of the fault, it sounds like a petty 'he does it too' quibble.

    This House of Representatives has never had any interest in enacting legislation. All it has permitted to be brought to the floor have been super-partisan bills doomed to die in the Senate. Nothing that the House has done had any point OTHER THAN solidifying the social conservatives in the Republican base. It has ALL been aimed at elections and not at governing.

    Republicans don't care about GOVERNING, they care about being in power. When they get in power, they spend their time changing the rules to make it easier for them to stay in power (pointless restrictions to voting for Democratic constituencies and attempts to crush Democratic power centers like unions). They don't believe in protecting or serving the public; the public is not their constituency. They spend their time snorting coke with the companies they are supposed to be regulating. They start pointless wars and give massive no-bid contracts to their cronies who 'lose' pallets of cash (ooopsie!). They tear down financial regulatory walls and look the other way when banks play roulette with the nations mortgages. They stack the courts with ideologues who confer personhood on corporations and equate money with speech, so that we suffer with networks officially permitted to lie with first-amendment impunity while bullhorns are banned for street protests. They empty the treasury through tax cuts to the 1% with the aim of trading the safety net for a 'super-value' coupon. They 'drill, baby, drill!' and call efforts to recoup clean up money from the resulting massive oil spill a 'shakedown'.

  • Josef K on October 28, 2011 9:35 AM:

    Again, am I the only one disturbed that this idiot is third in line of succession to the Presidency?

  • Ladyhawke on October 28, 2011 9:36 AM:

    REPORT: House GOPís ĎJob Creatingí Spending Cuts Destroyed 370,000 Jobs


    House Republicans took the government to the brink of shutdown last spring by demanding across-the-board budget cuts to many vital programs. Instead of focusing on job creation, as Americans wanted them to, the GOP turned its attention to slashing funds for programs that funded assistance for women and children, local law enforcement, the social safety net, environmental protections, and many other programs they deemed as either too expensive or unnecessary. Worse, when challenged on why they hadnít made the effort to tackle high unemployment, Republicans insisted that their slash-and-burn budget cuts were meant to create jobs.

    Not all of those cuts made it through, but the GOP succeeded in passing massive spending reductions as part of a continuing resolution that kept the government operating. According to a new report from the Center for American Progressí Scott Lilly, those cuts didnít result in the job creating boon Republicans insisted would follow. Instead, it has done just the opposite, as those cuts will result in the destruction of roughly 370,000 jobs.



  • AndThenThere'sThat on October 28, 2011 9:54 AM:

    @ Peter C -9:31

    One of the most succinct summaries of the modern GOP I've ever heard or read.

  • Kathryn on October 28, 2011 10:17 AM:

    No Josef K, you're not the only one. The knowledge that a drunk, lazy, stupid liar is third in line for the presidency worries me too.

    On the calendar planned by Boner for next year's country club congress, that visual needs to reach a wider audience than Daily Kos.

  • mmm on October 28, 2011 10:58 AM:

    Ladyhawke and Peter C have it RIGHT! Any Dems on the Sunday talk? Memorize their posts!

  • Mike on October 28, 2011 11:36 AM:

    anyone able to find the 2008 House schedule? I would love to use this in a 'discussion' I'm having but want to understand what the schedule looked like in a POTUS election year when Pelosi controlled before I do.

    obviously, Boehner raised the bar for his caucus by pretending its the President that doesn't want to work but I'd rather not have a similar schedule thrown back at me from 2008.

  • liam foote on October 28, 2011 12:17 PM:

    This seems like a bit of preaching to the choir. Speaker Boehner, Sen. McConnell and the suit from Virginia relentlessly spout such nonsense, as do the JV squad of GOP young guns. The current Luntz-mandated buzz words and phrases criticizing "campaigning" and "fund raising" are contrasted with the need to "sit down with us" and "do what the American people want."

    This incessant drivel is not meant to appeal to readers of WM or the Dem base. It is directed at the GOP, including TP'ers, and those independent or leaning voters who might be influenced. When we view Mr. Obama's responses we can say, "OK, good; he's countering their talking points," something which he does remarkably well. But the WH and other Dems fall far short in volume and intensity of message.

  • meander on October 28, 2011 12:41 PM:

    Didn't Boehner recently complain that the President was using too much executive authority to enact student loan programs and so forth? Isn't that "governing"?

    A quote from The Hill in yesterday's piece Boehner's selective concerns:

    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."
  • exlibra on October 28, 2011 3:41 PM:

    Mike, @11:36

    Not a visual, but...

  • June on October 28, 2011 4:32 PM:

    @Ladyhawke - thanks for the links!

  • Mike on October 31, 2011 10:16 AM:

    thank you very much exlibra