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Fire John Boehner!

April 16, 2011

He’s been on the job for only three months but what else do we need to see? Republicans must admit their mistake and pick a new Speaker of the House.

John Boehner (pronounced bon-er, no matter what he claims) might be a nice guy on some personal level but he’s a flippin’ disaster as a leader and now it turns out that he’s every bit as dishonest as the lefty whackjob he replaced.

Never mind that he crumples into tears every five seconds, and never mind that he presided over the House as Speaker back in 2006 and left such a bad taste in voters’ mouths that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats swept into power, and never mind that he has serial killer eyes (seriously, look at those eyes). Never mind all that. Can we at least find somebody who doesn’t lie like a rug?

Let’s recap: during the 2010 election campaign, Republicans made a “Pledge to America” in which they promised to cut current year spending by $100 billion. Most Americans know the country is hurtling down the highway to bankruptcy with Mario Obama at the wheel so they responded by giving the Republican Party an unprecedented blowout victory on November 2. “Please please PLEASE save our nation by getting spending under control!” was the message from voters.

Then, when the wave of brand new Republican congresscritters was sworn into office and elected Boehner as Speaker on January 5, he immediately started backtracking on that pledge. On January 6, one day later, he announced the $100 billion budget cut wouldn’t happen. One day in office is all it took to forget who put him there and why they put him there.

He had two excuses for backing out on the pledge. The first excuse was that fiscal year 2011 was already partly gone so $100 billion in cuts for “a year” would amount to considerably less for a partial year—an excuse that ranks down there with “the dog ate my homework” and “the check is in the mail.”

The second excuse was that Republicans didn’t mean $100 billion in cuts from current spending levels—they meant $100 billion in cuts from the President’s Budget Request to Congress submitted February 1, 2010 (see my explanation of the budget process posted two days ago). But since that budget was never passed by Congress, they couldn’t use those numbers as a basis—this is an excuse as blatantly dishonest as “I never had sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky” and “it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.”

Everybody knows that ethical standards for politicians are low but surely there is somebody who can go one whole day without giving us the middle finger.

Here’s the thing: when Republicans made their $100 billion pledge, they knew they wouldn’t take over until January, and they knew that Democrats never passed Obama’s February 2010 budget, so if they didn’t mean $100 billion in cuts they shouldn’t have said $100 billion in cuts.

Last week, Boehner made a deal with Harry Reid and Barack Obama that ostensibly included $38 billion in cuts, 62% less than the campaign pledge. Then this week we learned from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that most of that $38 billion in cuts was smoke and mirrors—money that was never going to be spent in the first place, accounting tricks, and other nonsense. The CBO says the net total of cuts is only $352 million through September 30. That’s less than 1% of the amount advertised which, remember, was already 62% lower than the amount promised, which in turn was only 6% of the projected deficit for this year.

Doing the arithmetic, Boehner agreed to “cuts” that reduce this year’s deficit by .02%, or two ten-thousandths.


To paraphrase Will Rogers, the only difference between death and the budget deficit is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets.

There will never come a time when the Republicans’ tactical position is better than it was for this fight. First of all, the 2011 budget is the budget that Democrats refused to work on last year, which gave Boehner the opportunity to answer every Democrat objection with “You had your chance and didn’t do anything so step off, chumps.” Second, Michele Bachmann found $105 billion illegally appropriated in last year’s Obamacare legislation that all by itself was enough to meet the Republican campaign pledge.

Just cut the illegal appropriation for Obamacare and you can say you met your pledge. How hard is that?

We need somebody who is serious and tough, not a prevaricating lame-excuse-peddling wimp who breaks into tears when somebody says “Boo!” Boehner, who cried on election night and cried twice during an appearance on “60 Minutes” (once when Lesley Stahl asked him about his crying) and cried when he was elected to be Speaker and is known to cry during House debates, admits that he can no longer visit schools because seeing “all these little kids running around” makes him cry.

Good golly, Miss Molly.

How can we expect a man like that to succeed in hard-nosed White House bargaining sessions like the one April 6 when he faced Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Harry Reid, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, and White House Budget Director Jacob Lew? That’s four against one—unless you count Biden. Boehner probably sobbed his way through the whole meeting.

This is a fight for national survival and we need a leader who not only recognizes a tactical advantage but is willing, able, and eager to use it. We need George Patton, not this twisted Bizarro World version of Mister Rogers.

From Reno, Nevada, USA

April 25, 2011 - Because I drag my feet getting down to the computer, I just read two of your emails. I suspect someone is tampering with your attachments beecause they have been removed. I am afraid they may come for you with a gun. Let us hope there is another reason. I feel hopeless about the days to come. I understand only 12% listen to talk radio and where else will you ever hear anything about what they are trying to do? - Lea D., Illinois
J.P. replies: Your Internet provider is Comcast, and for some they don't seem to like Do me a favor: complain like hell.

April 16, 2011 - I actually wanted to ask you about this. Apparently the issue, as I understand it, is that it takes time for the money to be distributed. So the whole $38 billion won't be cut until after this fiscal year ends, because that's when the money will be distributed; hence, only $352 million is saved during the remainder of FY2011. However, the other day you made it sound as if the money was almost immediately distributed once a budget was passed, even if the appropriation bills were passed with days left to go in the fiscal year. I know you're not the Treasury secretary or anything, but I was wondering if you had any idea why it's not the case this time? Thanks. - Michael M., California
J.P. replies: The answer is very complicated. Congress can do anything they want. If they say the Gee Whiz, Idaho, office of the BLM must spend one million dollars on July 23, 2025, on red ink pens, that's the law. Gee Whiz better be ready for a trainload of red ink pens. BUT, today's Congress can never restrict tomorrow's Congress and tomorrow's Congress can turn around and revoke that allocation for red ink pens. So allocations for future years are made, for various reasons, but can always be revoked by future sessions of Congress. Keeping all that in mind and getting down to your question, general allocations are made for a two year period. I know that's confusing because the budget is for one year, but federal agencies actually have two years to spend the money Congress gives them. Unfortunately, that two-year period of time applies up at the agency level, not down at the local field station level. Down at my level, we feel pressure to spend our allocation down to the last penny (and I literally mean the last penny) before the end of the year, September 30, because if we don't the agency might confiscate the unspent amounts and give it to some other office. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, otherwise known as the Stimulus Bill, gave us money with a lot of caveats attached, one of which was to buy high-mileage cars immediately. That's why I talked about "shoveling money out the door." That requirement was in addition to the normal pressure we feel to spend our annual allocation. In the final analysis, all the complications of the budget process boil down to this basic fact: the projected deficit for fiscal year 2011 was $1.65 trillion before Boehner's $38 billion in "cuts" and almost exactly the same after. He perpetrated a scam.

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