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Leader of the Not-Democrats Party

I was at a luncheon today with House Minority Leader John Boehner at which just about every question for the Ohio Republican started the same telling way: If you become speaker....

The striking thing about Boehner’s answers at the lunch, sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor, was how little of a positive program he presented. The Republican agenda as sketched out by Boehner was more of an absence of Democratic policies than the implementation of Republican ones.

He did say that Republicans would have more to say in September, after spending next month checking in with voters. “You have to listen before you outline an agenda, and we’re listening,” he said. For the country’s sake, I sure hope they hear something worthwhile. Because what Boehner offered up was pretty unconvincing.

Asked the first three things he would do as speaker, Boehner rattled off a list that added up to Not Being Democrats.

The first: “repeal Obamacare,” which Boehner described as a “giant impediment” standing in the way of job growth. Except... President Obama won’t be signing that repeal even if it were to pass the House and Senate.

Second, “no cap-and-trade.... You raise the cost of energy, you raise the cost of doing business.” Except... no cap-and-trade legislation appears to be on its way, Republican House majority or not.

Third, ”not raise people’s taxes,” because “you cannot get the economy going again” without “giving people some certainty about what their taxes are going to be.” Except... much as Boehner & Co. would like voters to think otherwise, the only question is whether the Bush tax cuts will be extended for everyone, or for almost everyone (other than those making more than $250,000 a year.)

“On Election Day, if we win the majority a lot of the uncertainty is going to go away,” Boehner said. That, he said, “will do more to help American employers than anything we can do.”

Except... what uncertainty? Boehner mentioned another going-nowhere-fast proposal, “card check,” the labor-backed measure to make it easier for unions to organize, and another not-disappearing-anytime-soon measure, the just-signed financial services reform bill. Hard to see how having a Republican House -- or even a Republican House and Senate -- would change either of those situations.

As to getting the deficit under control, Boehner specified two items -- cancelling unused TARP funds, which would bring in $16 billion, and cancelling unspent stimulus funds, another $50 billion or so -- and then pointed to $1.3 trillion in potential cuts outlined by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as “a pretty good list of options.” (The Ryan cuts, by the way, already include the TARP and stimulus funds.)

But Boehner didn’t specify what Ryan cuts he liked or didn’t like, and he pointedly refused to say whether or not he bought into Ryan’s broader, and rather audacious, plan to balance the budget. “Parts of it I like, parts of it I have my doubts about,” he said. Not exactly enlightening.

It’s better, no doubt, for Boehner and his party if the election is, as he put it, “a referendum on the job-killing policies that are coming out of this administration and my colleagues across the aisle." But voters are entitled to hear more from the man who would be speaker -- and to hear it before Election Day.

By Ruth Marcus  | July 21, 2010; 4:49 PM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Comments

It's amazing that a guy with an average/below average IQ like Boehner can even become a Congressman in the USA. Boehner is not the brightest light on the lamp post...but then again neither are any republicans I have ever seen or read about.

Posted by: vintel7 | July 21, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Boehner is the perfect computer software salesman. His product is always just around the corner, in beta stage, only needs a few bugs fixed, it will all be ready in six months or so.

He has been using that line for years, and has never delivered a working program, or even a buggy beta.

It is all about letting the republicans have a few more years in power before the deficits and the dereg and the pro business policies drive our economy over a cliff.

Of course, we got to that cliff three years ago, John, and you have absolutely no credibility left.

I'd buy the next generation Osborne Computer before I'd by off on your promises.

Posted by: ceflynline | July 21, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

dang, Boehner should get some catchy phrase like "Hope and Change"....then when Republicans have the majority,
-- restore willy nilly fiscal responsibility,
-- put tariffs on China,
-- rescend NAFTA,
-- destroy the union's attempts at carding,
-- reduce taxes,
-- institue a flat tax and a value added tax at 2%
-- get rid of the add-on unemployment benefits,
-- toss out the illegals while keeping the legals,
-- finish the war in Iraq and take the lawyers out of the fight in Afghanistan,
-- come up with achievable national goals for a foreign policy,
-- get rid of the obamacare monstrosity while passing incrementally some key parts of it,
-- begin drilling again,
-- raise the tax on gas by $.50 a gallon.

You get the idea...they don't have to say anything...just something like "Time to restore sanity and national objectives." Then do it. That's what the Reds did after 2008.

Posted by: wjc1va | July 21, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Great summation of what the Republican alternative has to offer the country should they regain control of the House....which in a nutshell amounts to a bag of wind -- i.e., nothing meaningful period.

Our Republican friends have exposed their obstructionist game plan from day one after Obama took office.,,,turning down any idea that the administration proposed without offering any meaningful alternative(s).

Lets hope that most of the voters can see through their chicanery and let the Republicans know that we do not care for their empty alternatives by denying them our votes. Wake up America!!!!

Posted by: Frankels | July 21, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

A lot of conservatives like myself actually see the metaphorical "untying of the millstone" around our collective neck as a rather proactive step. Undoing the mess some people have (somehow) managed to label "reform" - at the very least, striking out the corrupt, shady deals that made it possible - is a rather important step towards the society that conservatives believe in. I respect that you don't agree with those views, but please be respectful enough to call it what it is.

It also needs to be said the liberal shibboleth that "conservatives are not offering any new ideas" is rather disingenuous. We have offered many ideas during the healthcare debate, et. al., that were simply ignored by a party who didn't think that they had any need to concede anything to the other side.

Just because you don't like the ideas doesn't mean that they have not been offered, or that those offering them have no alternatives.

Posted by: evil_tendencies | July 21, 2010 6:44 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to understand the comment that the Republicans offered many ideas during the healthcare debate, trying to understand this in the context of compromise which is really the heart of a functional democracy or republic.

When the ideas were offered, what did the Republicans agree to give up in return? The majority Democrats (who were themselves divided) actually did give up the public option and direct funding of abortions. Those were certainly two biggies. What biggies did the other side unambiguously put on the table? If the answer is nothing, then one could conclude that Republicans are not interested in a robust if complex democracy so much as a totalitarian state wherein the side in power writes all the rules while conceding nothing...

Posted by: Fizdad | July 21, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Here is the Republican plan for the economy and health care, a explicitly stated by their leadership in what they will vote FOR:

1.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | July 22, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Positive Program???

Fear, Hatred, Distortion, Distraction and Division is all Republicans have to offer.

Posted by: thebobbob | July 22, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Why should Boehner and the GOP give you and the rest of the MSM wolf pack what you want when you want it just because you ask for it?
What have you done for them lately?

If they give you anything other than the "progressive" crap that you like, you'll spend the next 3 1/2 months ripping it to shreds. You don't have enough votes to count anyway.
The real voters will get it after Labor Day when they're ready to pay attention.

Go take a nice vacation with all the other lefties on Martha's Vineyard and relax. Talk among yourselves.

Posted by: parkbench | July 23, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse


I've heard about the republican ideas submitted on Health Care. Just because the GOP submitted ideas, doesn't make them automatically "good ideas" or that the Democrats should bend over and blindly accept them!

The reason that several major bills are as weak as they are is because the Democrats tried to work in a bipartisan fashion ... but the GOP definition of "bipartisan" = My Way!

Posted by: waterbirds | July 23, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

The democrats could have done a lot more if they had received even a little cooperation. But, the republikans have chosen to take the low road thinking that voters are stupid and won't remember come November.

The republikans were soundly whomped in the last election. It was a RESOUNDING whomp, too. It was heard throughout the entire world. It was a statement made by the American people that they wanted something different. It was a referendum AGAINST failed republikan policies.

The republikans have stonewalled Obama's efforts to turn this economy around through obfuscation, filibustering, lying, embellishments, rumor-mongering, misleading, misdirection, name calling and willfully playing to the fears of the populace.

In my entire life, I have never observed such hate-filled rhetoric as I have in the last two years. Obama has been called everything from a nazi, to a socialist, to a communist, to an alien, to a liar, to a traitor and more - much more. It gives rise to the questions: at what point does this rhetoric STOP being protected by the free speech ammendment and recognized as treason.

The republikans have also tried to rewrite history.

It was Bush that increased the national debt by $6 trillion.

It was Bush who went to congress five times to get the national debt cap increased to its present $13 trillion.

It was Bush & Cheney who got us back into Iraq with false claims of WMD. They should have been indicted for that.

It was Bush & Cheney that got us into Afghanistan. Although, now they label it as Obama's War.

Well into Obama's administration, the republikans were STILL denying that a recession even existed. It was established later that the recession had its origins around February, 2008.

The republikans deregulated Wall Street, the insurance and banking industries. They've also spoon-fed the miliatry-industrial compex that Eisenhower warned us about.

The republikans created huge tax breaks for rich people.

The republikans and some blue dog democrats were behind the enactment of NAFTA and other legislation that rewarded corporations for exporting jobs. 2.5 million manufacturing jobs went to China in the last two years alone.

15,000,000 people are collecting unemployment benefits. Another 15,000,000 people either didn't qualify for unemployment benefits, have rolled off unemployment, given up looking or are seriously under-employed in burger flipper type jobs.

And throughout the last two years, even as early as his first two weeks in office, the republikans have been blaming Obama for the economy and the prosecution of the war and for not creating jobs.

The government has a couple of creative things they could do to create jobs but, giving tax breaks to rich people isn't one of them. Filibustering and acting like petulant children won't create jobs, either.

If I were a republikan, I would absolutely dread the approach of November. Those 30,000,000 unemployed people are mostly voters.

Posted by: amazingboinker | July 23, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

This is a prime example of republican leadership. No plans and no ideas, just the regular babble and deceit. As for his off the wall agenda, appealing Obamacare and letting out of control cost of medical insurance retake control for the benefit of special interest profit would be the regular republican no brainer. And then the cap and trade idea would then be destroyed while the republicans doubled the price of gas and fuel and increased the cost of living by 50% like they have with the last three republican presidents. And of coarse last but not least, not tax the wealthy at a sensible rate and continue to balloon the debt completely out of control and lead the stupid to believe everyone's Else's tax rate is not going to go up. Not hard to figure why the republican party is responsible for the majority of the national debt and the economic condition President Obama is trying to get us out of. I read nothing that Bohner said that made any sense or would do anything to help the situation better than the policies that are already being induced. They have done absolutely nothing to win the minds of any sensible voters and when they present their idea's they will be some of the same, nothing more than cheap babble aimed in favor of corporate and special interest which will again put this country into more serious and unnecessary war and debt for the sole purpose of special interest greed and control. One thing the republican party leaders do know though, that a large part of the American voters are completely stupid and will believe anything and never search for the truth. That's where they win their voters with half truths, half the story and out right lies and deceit. Everything they do or say whether it be by the party politician or the cheap talk show host is nothing but cheap babble attacking the liberal and every policy that the current leadership presents. This is definitely not unity or patriotic america. Its sick and distorted and its all republican.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | July 23, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The democrats could have done a lot more if they had received even a little cooperation. But, the republikans have chosen to take the low road thinking that voters are stupid and won't remember come November.

The republikans were soundly whomped in the last election. It was a RESOUNDING whomp, too. It was heard throughout the entire world. It was a statement made by the American people that they wanted something different. It was a referendum AGAINST failed republikan policies.

The republikans have stonewalled Obama's efforts to turn this economy around through obfuscation, filibustering, lying, embellishments, rumor-mongering, misleading, misdirection, name calling and willfully playing to the fears of the populace.

In my entire life, I have never observed such hate-filled rhetoric as I have in the last two years. Obama has been called everything from a nazi, to a socialist, to a communist, to an alien, to a liar, to a traitor and more - much more. It gives rise to the questions: at what point does this rhetoric STOP being protected by the free speech ammendment and is recognized as treason.

The republikans have also tried to rewrite history.

It was Bush that increased the national debt by $6 trillion.

It was Bush who went to congress five times to get the national debt cap increased to its present $13 trillion.

It was Bush & Cheney who got us back into Iraq with false claims of WMD. They should have been indicted for that.

It was Bush & Cheney that got us into Afghanistan. Although, now they label it as Obama's War.

Well into Obama's administration, the republikans were STILL denying that a recession even existed. It was established later that the recession had its origins around February, 2008.

The republikans deregulated Wall Street, the insurance and banking industries. They've also spoon-fed the miliatry-industrial compex that Eisenhower warned us about.

The republikans created huge tax breaks for rich people.

The republikans and some blue dog democrats were behind the enactment of NAFTA and other legislation that rewarded corporations for exporting jobs. 2.5 million manufacturing jobs went to China in the last two years alone.

15,000,000 people are collecting unemployment benefits. Another 15,000,000 people either didn't qualify for unemployment benefits, have rolled off unemployment, given up looking or are seriously under-employed in burger flipper type jobs.

And throughout the last two years, even as early as his first two weeks in office, the republikans have been blaming Obama for the economy and the prosecution of the war and for not creating jobs.

The government has a couple of creative things they could do to create jobs but, giving tax breaks to rich people isn't one of them. Filibustering and acting like petulant children won't create jobs, either.

If I were a republikan, I would absolutely dread the approach of November. Those 30,000,000 unemployed people are mostly voters.

Posted by: amazingboinker | July 23, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Marcus, though usually pretty fair-minded, is holding John Boehner to a higher standard than Nancy Pelosi in 2006.

Four years ago, I don't recall Ms. Pelosi proclaiming that she would pass health care reform or carbon emission limits if Democrats took over the House, though that was clearly her long-term agenda. And why should she, knowing that such politically difficult legislation would face a certain veto? In a midterm election, no opposition party should be expected to make promises that it would need the presidency to fulfill. Yet that is exactly what Ms. Marcus is asking Boehner to do.

Boehner knows Obama would veto most of the Republican agenda, and he also knows that Obama would get the credit for any successes, just as Bill Clinton got credit for the deficit reductions that occurred from 1995-2000, despite the fact that Republicans were in charge of appropriations and Clinton spent the entire period proposing an endless stream of new programs that, if enacted, would have blown the deficit wide open. He got to take credit for making the proposals, and he got to take credit for the deficit reduction that occurred BECAUSE they were not enacted, AND he got to tar Republicans with being stingy. I don't recall Ms. Marcus objecting to this heads-I-win-tails-you-lose game.

Is it fair or reasonable to expect Boehner to put himself in this position, so that in 2012 he will have no legislative accomplishments to show for his efforts and the Democrats will be able to run as the party of Santa against the party of Scrooge, as they have so many times in the past? Of course not.

It is clear what Republicans intend to do if they win one or both houses of Congress: they intend to put a stop to all further Democratic legislation; they intend to undo what little of the last two years they can, like TARP; and they intend to wait it out until 2012, when there will be a true choice between paths to the future, higher spending with higher taxes or lower spending with lower taxes, with the winner claiming both Congress and the White House.

This is what the Democrats did in 2006. It is the only reasonable path for an opposition in a midterm election. And it is what Boehner is saying, as clearly as politics allows.

Posted by: jimcohen | July 23, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

But voters are entitled to hear more from the man who would be speaker -- and to hear it before Election Day.

Coming from the cabal of Obotics who elected the man who had ZERO ideas or plans and whose entire campaign consisted of "I'm NOT BUSH" and "Bush did Blah-blah" the blame game crew- this article must be satire- I got a good laugh- if it isn't I urge you to go back and listen to the ZERO's speechifying pre-election

My my what short memories these Obotic Journolists have...........

Posted by: Isahiah62 | July 23, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The GOP seems to be depending that the voters will not remember how we got into the situation we have been in since 2008. They hope that amnesia will be wide spread and no one will remember the unfunded wars the tax cuts for the rich and the doubling of the national debt in the Bush years.
National amnesia will be the basis for all GOP platforms, and according to Senator O'Connell, they want the Bush policies back.
Export jobs, run up the debt, cut taxes, because we don't need the revenue??? What a way to woo voters.

Posted by: beagun27 | July 23, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, it wasn't a cabal of Obotics that elected Obama. It was the overwhelming majority of American VOTERS.

As for not having clear cut ideas - Bush created a landscape where he didn't need any as long as he just wasn't Bush. The people had had enough of republikan failed policies.

As for Boehner, yes, the voters have a right to expect something from him. They voted for him (maybe not again) and, since he's not shy about collecting his paycheck, he SHOULD do something to earn it other than stand in the way of those who are tasked with cleaning up his mess.

Posted by: amazingboinker | July 23, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Marcus should recognize this platform, it is the one the Democrats used in 2008 after the Republicans had done a bad job; by the way, the Republicans had not done as bad a job as the Democrat did in just the past four years. Not being a Democrat should be enough, though the Republicans have defined their principles well, too. Hopefully this time the Republicans will not run a Democrat at the head of their ticket as they did in 2008, and leave John McCain free to switch parties to the one he normally votes with.

Posted by: Isaldur43 | July 23, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

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