Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
I have previously made the case that the TanMan, Weeper of the House John Boehner, is the "WORST. SPEAKER. EVER." The man is terrible at his job. No speaker has ever been held hostage by a radical minority within his own caucus the way that Boehner is held hostage by the Tea Party. This was inconceivable with past Speakers of the House.
On Thursday, the TanMan held his weekly press conference and pushed a new GOPropaganda message in the so-called "fiscal cliff" austerity crisis negotiations that Boehner seemed excited about: "Spending is the problem." As Steve Benen explains, Sorry, Boehner, spending isn't the problem:
By focusing solely on one side of the ledger, Boehner hopes to push the debate onto more comfortable terrain. He doesn't want a debate about reducing the debt and moving towards a balanced budget; he wants a debate about shrinking government. This isn't about finding a post-election compromise with those who won with broad public support; this is about the Republican crusade to cut public investments and weaken public institutions for purely ideological ends.
The flaw in Boehner's pitch? Spending is not the problem.
For Republicans, it's an incontrovertible fact that President Obama has thrown caution to wind and increased spending dramatically in his first term, writing checks like there is no tomorrow. In reality, government spending has gone down as a percentage of GDP, a fact that's been documented many, many times. What's more, Obama accepted $1 trillion in spending cuts just last year, and the White House is offering additional spending cuts as part the ongoing fiscal talks.
It's true that spending is set to increase in the coming years, but that's not because rascally Democrats are fiscally irresponsible; it's because of an aging population and rising health care costs.
There are modest steps we can take now to deal with these long-term fiscal challenges, but to date, Republicans have opposed all of them.
We can also go one step further, and ask the House Speaker where his plan to cut spending is, if in fact, spending is the problem. Boehner has initiated these fiscal talks, but has not yet produced a detailed plan to do, well, anything -- we don't know exactly what kind of cuts he wants in social insurance programs; we don't know exactly where he intends to find new revenue; and we don't know exactly what spending cuts he expects to see.
Steve Benen adds more detail today, 'They have only moved backwards':
Boehner visited the White House yesterday for another chat with the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, but by all indications, everyone is just spinning their wheels. A senior administration official told the New York Times the House GOP leader "has not given on revenue and has not identified any cuts that he wants in exchange for rates." The official added that Republicans "have only moved backwards since the beginning,"
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Remember, it's been four weeks. If Republican leaders weren't prepared to come to the table with specific ideas and policy details a few days after the election, that's understandable. But a full month later, with the deadline looming, and with a credible White House plan already presented, all available evidence suggests GOP officials haven't even done the first page of their homework assignment.
They want spending cuts, but won't offer any details as to which ones. They'll accept new revenue, but won't say where it might come from. They want "reforms" to social-insurance programs and entitlements, but won't point to any details.
In the process, we're learning something important about how congressional Republicans think about governing.
More on this subject in the next post.