What Boehner can’t say: “You’re right, but I have no control over my people.”

On Friday, Meet the Press host David Gregory interviewed Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), asking repeatedly why he continued to blame President Obama for the automatic budget cuts that went into effect on Friday. At one point Gregory responded to Boehner’s assertions with, “Mr. Speaker, that’s just not true.” Listening to Boehner repeat the exact same stupid and completely false arguments that he’s been bleating for days, the actual meaning behind his words becomes obvious: “You’re right, David, but I have no control over my people.”

[During the interview], Boehner insisted that Obama and Senate Democrats were to blame because they did not send any proposal his way. “Even today, there’s no plan, from Senate Democrats or the White House, to replace the sequester,” he said.

But Gregory was unconvinced, pointing out that Obama had in fact outlined what he required in a compromise deal. Importantly, that framework included specific mention of entitlement and spending cuts—both of which are central to Republican demands—that he’d be willing to make. “Mr. Speaker, that’s just not true,” Gregory said. “They’ve made it very clear, as the president just did, 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.”

“Well David, that’s just nonsense,” Boehner interrupted. “If he had a plan why didn’t Senate Democrats go ahead and pass it?” Senate Democrats did not pass a competing bill to avert the automatic cuts because Republicans in that chamber effectively filibustered their efforts. The bills passed by the Republican-led House were also a solely a symbolic gesture, as they did not address revenue increases, making them a non-starter for Democrats.

Gregory continued to rebuff Boehner’s claims, pointing again and again to the fact that Republicans had an offer from the president that included policies they very much support. “Why not give on this?” Gregory asked. “Why not allow some revenues to come from tax reform? You protect defense spending, and you unlock the key to getting the kind of entitlement cuts the president said he’ll give you.”

Boehner demurred once more, saying that Washington had to “live within their means,” and that the president already got some tax cuts on the last debt ceiling compromise. Again, Gregory was incredulous. “You yourself said, ‘Look we got 99% of the Bush tax cuts extended,’” he said. “That’s a pretty good deal.”

The best explanation for Boehner’s repetitively ignorant positions on the sequester comes from Charles M. Blow

Boehner’s intransigence during the talks drew “cheers,” according to a report in The New York Times, from his chronically intransigent colleagues. But their position is a twist of the truth that is coming dangerously close to becoming accepted wisdom by sheer volume of repetition. It must be battled back every time it is uttered.

Let’s make this clear: it is wrong to characterize the American Taxpayer Relief Act as a “tax hike.” In reality, much of what it did was allow 18 percent of the Bush tax cuts — mostly those affecting the wealthiest Americans — to expire while permanently locking in a whopping 82 percent of them.

But of course, that misrepresentation fit with the tired trope of Democrats as tax-and-spend liberals. It also completely ignores that it was Bush-era spending that dug the ditch we’re in.

Republicans have defined their position, regardless of how reckless: austerity or bust. However, as economists have warned, austerity generally precedes — and, in fact, can cause — bust. Just look at Europe.

But Republicans are so dizzy over the deficits and delighted to lick the boots of billionaires that they cannot — or will not — see it. They are still trying to sell cut-to-grow snake oil: cut spending and cut taxes, and the economy will grow because rich people will be happy, and when rich people are happy they hire poor people, and then everyone’s happy.

[...] The president said Friday that “there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill” that includes Congressional Republicans who “privately at least” were willing to close loopholes to prevent the sequester.

Those privately reasonable Republicans might want to be more public before their party goes over another cliff and takes the country with them.

So this congressional Republican “caucus of common sense” must either be like some secretive religious group–don’t say their names aloud!–or they must be the most cowardly, pants-wetting group of politicians that have ever disgraced the halls of our federal government.

Not only has this common sense caucus allowed their party to be defined by a group of extremists whose work ethic is to not work (and who take pride in refusing to compromise on anything, ever), but they’re allowing it to be further defined by an annual convention in which Princess Dumbass of the Northwoods* is invited to speak while a talented and popular leader like Gov. Chris Christie is completely shunned.

The Fox-Republican Party no longer has room for a rather long laundry-list of people, beliefs, attributes and ideals. We can add common sense and courage to that list.

*Charlie Pierce

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