the national interest

Boehner Coins New Word; Budget Victory at Hand

U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) speaks during a news briefing March 29, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Boehner said he will have enough votes to pass the budget proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Golfer, tanner, linguistic pioneer – is there anything he can’t do? Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

This morning, John Boehner’s office sent around a Charles Krauthammer column arguing that Republicans should embrace the budget sequester. Also today, in an effort to make my head explode, Boehner’s office has created a new Twitter hashtag, #obamaquester, dedicated to spreading the word that the sequester is all Obama’s fault.

Now, whose fault the sequester is can be debated. Democrats came up with the proposal, in response to Republican threats to melt down the world economy by refusing to lift the debt ceiling. Most Republicans in the House voted for the sequester, while most Democrats voted against it, and Boehner boasted, “I got 98 percent of what I wanted.”

But do the House Republicans detect any contradiction at all in this messaging strategy? Message No. 1 is that they won’t compromise at all, not even offering any of the tax reform they’ve been dangling for months, not even in exchange for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, to replace the sequester. Krauthammer: “If they do nothing, the $1.2 trillion in cuts go into effect. This is the one time Republicans can get cuts under an administration that has no intent of cutting anything. Get them while you can.” Sequester ho!

Message No. 2: This horrible sequester is all Obama’s fault! It’s devastating!

Obviously you can tie this all together if you maintain that raising tax revenue — even if it comes not by raising rates but by reducing the “special interest loopholes and deduction” he had previously pledged himself to cleaning out — would have horrific consequences. You would have to believe that Boehner’s own December budget offer would have horrific consequences, since it pledged to increase tax revenue by $800 billion, a good $180 billion higher than the revenue increase we got.

In any case, I don’t understand the strategy of publicly declaring you don’t mind the sequester and blaming it all on Obama. Don’t you have to, you know, pick one?

Boehner Coins New Word; Budget Victory at Hand