Original story on Addicting Info.
Late Friday afternoon, Speaker of the House John Boehner paid a visit to President Obama at the White House to discuss sequester negotiations. When he returned to his office (sans an agreement), he sat down for an interview with David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The interview aired Sunday morning. All direct quotes from this article are from the official NBC News transcript.
Boehner reported that the interview with the president was “a very nice, polite discussion,” but he didn’t waste a lot of time on pleasantries. He got straight to the business at hand: spouting GOP talking points and trashing the President and Senate Democrats.
“I had asked the president and Senator Reid to come with a plan to replace the sequester. Now listen, we’ve known about this for 16 months. And yet even today, there’s no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester. And over the last 10 months, House Republicans have acted twice to replace the sequester. There are smarter ways to cut spending than these automatic across the board…”
Gregory was having none of it, though.
“But Mr. Speaker that’s just not true. They’ve made it very clearly, as the president just did [in a video played], that he has a plan that he’s put forward that involves entitlement cuts, that involves spending cuts, that you’ve made a choice as have Republicans to leave tax loopholes in place. And you’d rather have those and live with all these arbitrary cuts…”
Watch the exchange in this video:
Boehner played dumb. Huh? What plan?
“Well, David that’s just nonsense. If he had a plan, why wouldn’t Senate Democrats go ahead and pass it? The House has acted twice over the last ten months to replace the sequester. If we’re going to- the president got his tax hikes on January the first. If we’re going to get rid of loopholes, let’s lower rates and make the tax code fair for all Americans.”
Gregory appeared to be genuinely curious as to why the Speaker refused to show any flexibility on the issue of increased revenue.
“All right, so if you like defense spending and that’s going to be cut arbitrarily, you agree that this is stealth spending in the tax code,” Gregory pointed out. “Why not give on this? Why not allow some revenues to come from tax reform, protect defense spending and you unlock the key to getting the kind of entitlement cuts the president says he would give you, if you would just give revenues on tax reform?”
But all David Gregory needed to do is, in Boehner’s opinion, was…listen.
“Listen. I have worked with the president for two years to try to come to an agreement. Unfortunately, we’ve not been able to do so.”
Gregory reminded Boehner that he himself had been for tax reform a couple of months ago, and Boehner agreed (of course, it was for HIS idea of tax reform, naturally).
“I want tax reform. Republicans want tax reform. We want to bring rates down for all Americans so that we’ve got a fairer tax code. But to arbitrarily pull out a couple of tax expenditures and to say, ‘Well, we ought to use that to get rid of the sequester.’ Listen, every American knows Washington has a spending problem. Every American, in these tough economic times, has to find a way to balance their budget.”
At one point Boehner attempted to talk about the myth that lowering marginal tax rates leads to economic growth. Gregory cut him short (well, as much as anyone can cut this long-winded man short).
“But there’s no ironclad evidence that lowering marginal tax rates is going to lead to economic growth,” Gregory challenged.
To which Boehner replied:
“Oh yes there is. There’s mountains.”
OK. So that’s how you cut him short. Use words like “evidence” and “data” and “research.”
Gregory pointed out that numerous presidents have raised taxes – including Demigod Reagan – and the economy performed well. Boehner had his answer ready.
“There’s mountains of evidence that if we bring tax rates down, that we will help spur economic growth in our country.”
Watch the video:
Moving right along, Gregory pulled up the video of Boehner saying that the Senate needs to “get off their a**.”
Gregory asked him if it is “appropriate for the Speaker of the House to speak that way.” Boehner, aka Mr. Ready, gave his rehearsed answer.
“Listen, I speak English.”
After a lengthy discussion on whose idea the sequester actually was and how many Republicans voted for the sequester, it came down to the simple fact that Boehner thinks the sequester is just a really bad idea.
“Listen, this is not the smartest way to cut money. The smarter way would be to actually move a bill that deals with our long-term spending problem. You can’t continue to spend money that you don’t have.”
Gregory, clearly just a bit confused, asked if it was going to hurt economic recovery. Boehner again asked him to…listen…and delivered a whammy.
“Listen. I don’t know whether it’s going to hurt the economy or not. I don’t think anyone quite understands how the sequester is really going to work.”
David Gregory was further confused, as were many of us, namely those of us who read this Wall Street Journal op-ed that Boehner wrote on February 20, 2013. In the piece, Boehner used dramatic language to
try to scare the GOP base and vulnerable people make his point that President Obama’s “sequester is bad policy.” (yes, he really did call it the president’s sequester)
“A week from now, a dramatic new federal policy is set to go into effect that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more. In a bit of irony, President Obama stood Tuesday with first responders who could lose their jobs if the policy goes into effect. Most Americans are just hearing about this Washington creation for the first time: the sequester. What they might not realize from Mr. Obama’s statements is that it is a product of the president’s own failed leadership.
The sequester is a wave of deep spending cuts scheduled to hit on March 1. Unless Congress acts, $85 billion in across-the-board cuts will occur this year, with another $1.1 trillion coming over the next decade. There is nothing wrong with cutting spending that much—we should be cutting even more—but the sequester is an ugly and dangerous way to do it.”
So what is it, Mr. Speaker? Do you really think you can have any credibility with anyone when you, in a little over a week, do a complete 180 on an issue that threatens the most vulnerable in our society AND our defense?
When asked if he felt he should shoulder any of the responsibly for a failure to come to an agreement, Boehner replied:
“Listen, there’s no one in this town who’s tried harder to come to an agreement with the president and to deal with our long-term spending problem, no one.”
And Gregory mentioned the polls…yes, he went there. Does Speaker Boehner have any concerns about the dissatisfaction that Americans have with Republicans in Congress?
“Listen, the American people know that Washington spends way too much money. They know it has to be addressed, because they have to address it in their own family each and every week. And that’s why my focus has been to deal with our spending problem.Listen, I came here to save the American dream for my kids and yours.”
OK. So, no, the polls don’t concern him.
We just have to remember the GOP mantra that explains away everything. “This is hard.”
“Listen, this is hard,” Boehner emphasized. “I’m think [sic] the American people understand it’s hard.”
You know what? No, we don’t know that “it’s hard.” What we know is that, as the speaker himself pointed out, Washington knew about the looming sequester for 16 months. The American people are sick of the excuses, the blame games, and the lies. We think that he and the rest of Washington really don’t have a solid concept of what is “hard.”
Boehner used the word “listen” 15 times as a directive to David Gregory in Friday’s interview. What will it take to get John Boehner to “listen” to the American people, “listen” to the polls, and in fact, even “listen” to someone like David Gregory?
Watch the full interview here.
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.