[House Speaker John Boehner walked away from negotiations Friday, complaining that President Obama would not agree to Republican demands that the deal not include any tax increases and that the US budget must be balanced solely through draconian spending and program cuts.
In this frankly fictitious interview, Boehner explains why the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives rejects President Obama’s “Grand Compromise” offer to cut 4 trillion dollars from the US budget through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.]
PEOPLE OF EARTH: Speaker Boehner, thank you for agreeing to talk with us today.
BOEHNER: It’s my pleasure, Paul. No one reads your blog, so I can say anything I want and it won’t make any difference to me politically.
POE: Well, fuck you, too, Mr. Speaker.
BOEHNER: Call me John. And I am willing to bet that, if the world economy collapses because House republicans refuse to allow the debt ceiling to be raised, that the American people will blame it on Obama and, as a result, he won’t get a second term as president!
POE: So House Republicans are willing to let the American economy collapse in order to keep President Obama from being reelected?
BOEHNER: Hold on a minute, Paul. No one believes that the failure to raise the debt limit will have any economic consequences.
POE: The President believes it.
BOEHNER: Empty words. No one believes him.
POE: Secretary of the US Treasure Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke believe that the failure to raise the debt limit will be catastrophic.
BOEHNER: No one believes them, either.
POE: And every economist in the world agrees with the President, Geithner and Bernanke.
BOEHNER: So? No one believes them, either.
POE: Who do you believe?
BOEHNER: I believe my constitutents.
POE: The people who voted for you?
POE: Are any of them economists?
BOEHNER: Heck no. Most of them can’t read.
POE: Let me ask you this question: let’s say you want to know if your heart is diseased and whether you need surgery. Would you seek the advice of an experienced doctor or would you go out into the hall and ask a bunch of strangers to decide whether you need surgery?
BOEHNER: I would ask my doctor, of course. Surgery is complex. I want someone trained and experienced to do the job.
POE: But you don’t want the advice of people trained and experienced in economics?
BOEHNER: I don’t see what you are getting at, Paul.
POE: Let’s move on. John, why has the Republican Caucus that you lead rejected the President’s offer to balance the federal budget by cutting out 4 trillion dollars in spending?
BOEHNER: That’s not entirely true. We didn’t reject the president’s offer.
POE: I don’t understand.
BOEHNER: As you know, the Democrats are against spending cuts and the Republicans are against tax increases. The President proposes a compromise where spending cuts are paired with tax increases, mostly on the wealthiest Americans, resulting in a balanced budget over time.
POE: That’s the offer I thought you rejected.
BOEHNER: No, as I said, that’s not true. We decided to split the difference between the two sides, to meet in the middle. We agreed to the program cuts but rejected the tax increases.
POE: That sounds like you rejected the President’s offer of compromise.
BOEHNER: You’re looking at it the wrong way, Paul. We didn’t reject the whole offer – we accepted our half of it and rejected the President’s half. Let me put it in language someone like you can understand. We can save 4 trillion dollars doing what we all want or we can save 2 trillion doing only what the Republicans want. That is the very definition of compromise. Problem solved! High five!
POE: No, that isn’t a compromise.
BOEHNER: Okay, let me put it another way. Let’s say you and I owe the bank 4 thousand dollars. You have a ring worth 2 thousand and I have a boat worth 2 thousand. We can sell both the boat and the ring and pay off the whole debt, or we can sell your stuff and pay off half. That way we solve half of the problem, you pay the whole price for the deal and I lose nothing. Doesn’t that sound reasonable?
POE: No. It doesn’t sound reasonable.
BOEHNER: Okay, let’s look at it another way. Let’s say I have a gun and put it to your head and tell you to give me all your money or else I will kill your family. What would you do?
POE: I would give you all my money.
BOEHNER: Exactly! Now substitute you with President Obama, substitute me holding a gun to your head with the House Republicans threatening to push America into default by refusing to allow the debt limit to be raised, and substitute your family with the American people. See how it works? The President really has no choice but to accept the House Republican’s compromise offer.
POE: You mean do what I say or I will kill your family?
BOEHNER: Yes. We can’t figure out why the President doesn’t understand.
POE: That is blackmail. It isn’t a compromise.
BOEHNER: You clearly know nothing of compromise, Paul.
POE: Maybe not, but Benjamin Franklin did. When the first Americans were working on a constitution and bill of rights and were deadlocked on some issue, Franklin advised deadlocked groups to give up a little in order to reach an agreement.
BOEHNER: Didn’t Franklin ride around on a horse ringing a bell warning the British that the Americans were coming to protect their right to own guns?
POE: No. No one did that.
BOEHNER: Are you sure?
BOEHNER: But I thought I heard Sarah Palin say that, and she is one of our leading authorities on American History.
POE: Well, she got this one wrong.
BOEHNER: Have you checked with Michelle Bachmann? She knows a lot of history and stuff, too, especially stuff about the founding fathers.
POE: Franklin was a founding father.
POE: Yes. Really.
BOEHNER: I have my doubts. If Franklin said that then he sounds like a socialist and all of the founding fathers were rich capitalists who never gave up and never surrendered and never compromised. That’s what made them great.
POE: I mean no disrespect, Congressman, but I think you have your head up your ass. And if the congress you lead continues playing chicken with the American economy, threatening it with ruin unless you get your way, then we, the American people, are going to blame it on you and those House Republicans who, like you, have their heads up their ass so deep that they don’t care that they are playing Russian Roulette with the American economy.
Obama is offering unprecedented spending cuts. We can compromise on comparatively small tax increases in order to obtain the greater good. We need spending cuts, but it can be gradual. It doesn’t need to be sudden and disruptive. Like it or not, millions of Americans depend on these programs, and it will take time for them and their families to adjust to spending cuts. You should know this. You should accept this. But you don’t. You are willing to play chicken with my son’s future, with all of our children’s futures. So let me say it again, if your your failure to get control of the Republican lunatic fringe causes my IRA retirement account to tank or otherwise puts our already fragile economy deeper in the hole, then we, the American people will hunt you, and your Tea Party cronies, down like the animals that you are. Mark my words. And moderate conservative Republicans like me will be leading the mob.
We have an opportunity to fix a problem that you and your generation of political hacks created when you decided to increase spending, lower tax income and then borrowing money to make up the difference to run the government. You’ve waged two wars on borrowed money. That was just plain stupid. But it has been done. Now that the check has come due for the meal you and your buddies gorged yourselves on, you cannot refuse to pay the bill.
You seem only to care who gets the blame for your failure to lead. Mark my words, you will get the blame, not Obama. You. He is willing to meet you in the middle, and then some. You need to give up a bit to reach a compromise that will be the first very big step to fixing what you and those like you broke in the fSo fix this. Accept a deal that provides for spending cuts and increased revenues. This is how to balance the budget you broke. Do it, and do it soon, or else face the unpleasant consequences of very, very angry Americans.