House Speaker John Boehner should be ashamed of his deceitful speech Monday night. He didn't tell the truth. After introducing himself as the speaker of "the whole House," Boehner spoke as a political partisan and not a practical problem solver.
Boehner is a hostage of the Tea Party fanatics in his caucus and the Republicans' obsession with protecting tax loopholes for the wealthiest Americans and corporations, like hedge fund managers, corporate jet owners, oil companies and other special interests.
Boehner's response to the president was an astonishing display of revisionist history and brutish partisan politics. Boehner described his plans in poll-tested generalities, but what he didn't tell the American people was that his proposal would cut $1.8 trillion from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, in order to protect millionaires, billionaires and big corporations from paying their fair share. It's almost cartoonishly diabolical. The GOP's approach would paralyze Washington by forcing Congress to revisit this issue again and again instead of creating the jobs our country needs.
Monday night, Boehner told one lie after another. Not half-truths or mischaracterizations. Lies. He saved the biggest lies for how he described the debt ceiling talks themselves. He said, "I made a sincere effort to work with the president," yet every time the deal gets closer to what the Republicans want they run away. He said, "The president would not take yes for an answer." That's what the president said about Boehner last week. The difference is, when the president said it, it was true and still is.
Boehner then said that the president "wants a blank check." That's absurd. How can anyone argue that a plan with trillions of dollars in spending cuts is a blank check? The cuts being discussed are historic. They're massive.
The simple fact is that the Republicans are not working with the president to avert a crisis, they're doing everything they can to create one. In contrast, President Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress have repeatedly made clear that they're willing to work with the Republicans to develop a sensible, long-term budget and avert an economic disaster that will reverberate around the world.
President Obama has always said we need a balanced plan that includes both spending cuts and revenue. It's only fair that everyone should pitch in, including millionaires, billionaires and the big corporations, and it's critical that we protect Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from budget cuts that would devastate America's seniors and middle-class families.
The Republicans now have to decide whether they want to govern or keep saying no to protect the wealthiest people and corporations in America. The GOP's extremist position against a balanced approach won't create a single job or help a single business keep its doors open. The Republicans' fanaticism and brinkmanship is out of control and puts at risk our economy and the financial security of all Americans.