House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at the White House during a Friday morning press conference, angrily declaring that the government shutdown “isn’t some damn game.”
Boehner’s outburst came in reference to an anonymous quote published in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday:
Said a senior administration official: “We are winning…It doesn’t really matter to us” how long the shutdown lasts “because what matters is the end result.”
“This isn’t some damn game!” Boehner said, slamming a copy of the paper down on his podium. “The American people don’t want their government shut down, and neither do I.”
The Speaker later elaborated on what he does want:
“Listen, the issue right now is the continuing resolution to open the government,” Boehner explained. “All we’re asking for is for Harry Reid to appoint conferees so we can sit down and have a conversation.”
Speaker Boehner’s theatrical outburst made for good television, but it overlooked two key facts. First, Democrats have made 18 separate attempts since April to create a conference committee on the budget, as Boehner now proposes. Republicans blocked every one of them.
Second, and more importantly, if Boehner truly wanted the government shutdown to end, he could make it happen within minutes. At least 20 House Republicans have publicly signaled that they would support the Senate’s proposal for a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government for six months — enough for a majority when combined with the 200 Democratic representatives — all of whom would vote for a clean CR, according to House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
The only reason the government is shut down is that John Boehner won’t hold a vote on reopening it without any preconditions that damage the Affordable Care Act.
Instead, the House is continuing with its strategy of holding votes to fund popular government services one at a time. Democrats have flatly rejected the strategy.
“These piecemeal efforts are not serious, and they are no way to run a government,” White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said on Tuesday, when House Republicans first announced the strategy.
“If House Republicans are legitimately concerned about the impacts of a shutdown — which extend across government from our small businesses to women, children and seniors — they should do their job and pass a clean CR to reopen the government,” she added. “The president and the Senate have been clear that they won’t accept this kind of game-playing, and if these bills were to come to the president’s desk he would veto them.”
Speaker Boehner also confirmed on Friday that he intends to demand concessions in exchange for raising the debt limit, allowing the government to pay its bills.
“I don’t believe that we should default on our debt,” Boehner said. “It’s not good for our country. But after 55 years of spending more than what you bring in, something ought to be addressed.”
“I think the American people expect if we’re going to raise the amount of money we can borrow, we ought to do something about our spending problem and the lack of economic growth in our country,” he added.
Polls disagree with the Speaker on that point. According to a Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday, voters oppose blocking an increase in the debt ceiling as a negotiating tactic to stop the Affordable Care Act, by a 64 to 27 percent margin.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling by October 17 would almost certainly result in a global economic crisis; on Wednesday, a Treasury Department report warned that “in the event that a debt limit impasse were to lead to a default, it could have a catastrophic effect on not just financial markets but also on job creation, consumer spending and economic growth.”
Video of Boehner’s remarks can be seen below, via CNBC
Photo: Talk Radio News Service via Flickr