Boehner’s Fake Indignation

John BoehnerThis morning, Paul Krugman puts a recent John Boehner quote into context. I suspect that you’ve heard the quote. It one of Boehner’s many, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” rants. He said, “At some point, Washington has to deal with its spending problem. I’ve watched them kick this can down the road for 22 years since I’ve been here. I’ve had enough of it. It’s time to act.”

Okay, first things first. Whenever I hear Boehner whining like this, I think, “This is what a party does when it has absolutely no good ideas.” This is the very definition of grandstanding. Boehner wants to fix our “spending problem.” But the very definition of the problem is disingenuous. Revenues are way low by historical standards. He might be able to argue that we have a budget problem, but there is no way that he can reasonably claim that spending alone is the problem.

John Boehner started his career in the House back in 1991. Has he really watched them kick this can down the road for 22 years? Well, as the following graph I made about a year ago shows: during Clinton’s time in office, the problem wasn’t kicked down the road. And what’s more, John Boehner was a big enabler for the Bush Jr spending spree.

Krugman - Total Public and Private Debt

In other words, John Boehner was not helpful to Clinton in balancing the budget and was very helpful to Bush in unbalancing the budget. If he’s been watching “them” kick any cans, it has only been since Obama took office when he reverted to his unhelpful ways from the Clinton years.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Boehner’s Fake Indignation

  1. Remember, it’s not spending that bothers Boehner and the rest of his ilk. It’s "wasteful" spending. When he says "kick the can," he probably just means "we still have Social Security and Medicare."

    The other day I was talking with a friend of mine about the whole "takers and makers" GOP mantra. We decided that the phrase "make money" should be retired in almost all cases — certainly in describing filthily rich individuals/corporations.

    How do most financial institutions earn profits? They "take" money (what Stiglitz calls "rent collecting.") Same with health insurers. Same with energy consortiums. Ad infinitum.

    So, if we are speaking of someone colloquially who works for one of these institutions, we should say "oh, he/she takes about $150K a year." If we mention someone who works for a living doing something vaguely useful, then we could say "he/she makes $50K a year" (if the person we’re referring to is quite fortunate!)

    Conventional wisdom has this all balled up. At worst, social safety net payments merely shuffle money around unproductively — at best, they divert it from "takers" to "makers." But acknowledging that would cause far too many heads to explode.

    You simply can’t be a force for maliciousness, it seems, without believing yourself a force for good. This axiom, correctly identified by the Right as part of Soviet-style moral hypocrisy, goes pretty much unnoticed by practitioners of American-style moral hypocrisy. And what else is new tonight?

  2. @JMF – Yeah, it is amazing that regardless of how rich someone is or how they got the money, they manage to convince themselves that they truly deserve it. As you rightly point out, most of the big money people get is not for producing anything great. Even if you say (and I don’t) that Bill Gates was a force for good, most of his wealth did not come from his productivity.

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