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If you've been following the debate over the impending "sequester," you have probably seen liberals quoting Speaker Boehner saying that he got 98 percent of what he wanted in the deal that created it. What you might not have noticed is that Boehner made that remark in an August 1st, 2011 interview with CBS News reporter Scott Pelley, who had just asked him the following question:
SCOTT PELLEY: You were unable to get your own caucus behind your bill a few days ago. Do you intend to remain Speaker of the House?
In other words, what Boehner was really saying was "Why would I quit? I just got a sweet deal!"
In reality, Speaker Boehner had just tried and failed to sell a deal to his caucus. His back-up plan wasn't really his plan. As he likes to point out, the sequester was first broached by people in the White House who were desperately trying to find something that Boehner could sell to his caucus to avoid our country defaulting on its debts, destroying its credit rating, and tanking the global economy. Boehner agreed to it because he had nothing else to offer. Left to his own devices, the world would have come crashing down on his (and all our) heads. He's incompetent.
And he probably should have absorbed what Scott Pelley was (with little subtlety) suggesting. He should have realized that he had no power and resigned. Instead, he pushed his caucus to accept the sequester deal and went around telling anyone who would listen that it was a great accomplishment. He started out saying that anyway, but by September of 2012 he was saying that the sequester was insane and that it would be like using a "meat-axe" on the federal budget.
SPEAKER BOEHNER: The sequester was designed to be ugly. Why? So that no one would go there. But because the president didn't help, didn't lead when it came to fixing or working with the supercommittee, Senate Democrats didn't cooperate making this -- helping us make the supercommittee function, we end up with a sequester. The sequester is like taking a meat-axe to federal spending. It is not -- it -- no one on either side of the aisle believes this is an appropriate way to reduce the role of government. And so that's why the House acted in May to pass a bill to replace the sequester. It continues to sit in the United States Senate.” [Federal News Service – Weekly Press Conference with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH), 9/21/12]
"Meat-axe" is apparently a term he enjoys, since he repeated it just two weeks ago.
The truth is that John Boehner hates the sequester and plainly thinks it will endanger our national security and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, in addition to being insane. In fact, he said as much in a Wall Street Journal piece today. It's a jarring position. So jarring, in fact, that conservative columnist Byron York is flummoxed.
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner describes the upcoming sequester as a policy “that threatens U.S. national security, thousands of jobs and more.”
Which leads to the question: Why would Republicans support a measure that threatens national security and thousands of jobs? Boehner and the GOP are determined to allow the $1.2 trillion sequester go into effect unless President Obama and Democrats agree to replacement cuts, of an equal amount, that target entitlement spending…
...Could the GOP message on the sequester be any more self-defeating? Boehner could argue that the sequester cuts are necessary as a first — and somewhat modest — step toward controlling the deficits that threaten the economy. Instead, he describes them as a threat to national security and jobs that he nevertheless supports. It’s not an argument that is likely to persuade millions of Americans.
Just a week ago, Boehner told the Associated Press that the sequester was a disaster that would present him and his members with nothing but bleak options if it went into effect. And that's just on the budget and the economy. Boehner surely agrees with Bill Kristol that the sequester is a political loser that is pointless, won't get the Republicans any leverage, and will threaten our national security.
So why is he playing along?
To answer this question, perhaps we should go back to a piece that appeared on January 13th in Politico. Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Jake Sherman reported in that piece that the House Republicans were so deranged that they might default on our debt, allow the sequester, or force a government shutdown in the fall. The leadership didn't know what to do with them.
GOP officials said more than half of their members are prepared to allow default unless Obama agrees to dramatic cuts he has repeatedly said he opposes. Many more members, including some party leaders, are prepared to shut down the government to make their point. House Speaker John Boehner “may need a shutdown just to get it out of their system,” said a top GOP leadership adviser. “We might need to do that for member-management purposes — so they have an endgame and can show their constituents they’re fighting.”
We don't know who that "top GOP leadership adviser" is, but he or she kind of gave the game away, don't you think? For "member-management purposes" and to help Tea Party nut cases "get it out of their system," Speaker Boehner is going to let the sequester kick in rather than take proactive and prophylactic steps to prevent damage to our country and countless people's lives.
That's what we're dealing with here. That's what Boehner is dealing with here. Unhinged lunatics are roaming around the Capitol like it's an asylum, and their drunken leader hasn't the faintest clue how to lead them.
So, he says things like "this here grenade in my hand will blow my arm off if I pull this pin." And then he pulls the pin.