What Boehner considers an ‘ant’

WHAT BOEHNER CONSIDERS AN ‘ANT’…. In retrospect, maybe I buried the lede.

We talked earlier about House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) over-the-top interview with the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and noted some of the highlights, including his belief that Democrats are “snuffing out the America that I grew up in.”

On further reflection, perhaps this was the most notable comment in the interview.

Boehner criticized the financial regulatory overhaul compromise reached last week between House and Senate negotiators as an overreaction to the financial crisis that triggered the recession. The bill would tighten restrictions on lending, create a consumer protection agency with broad oversight power and give the government an orderly way to dissolve the largest financial institutions if they run out of money.

“This is killing an ant with a nuclear weapon,” Boehner said. What’s most needed is more transparency and better enforcement by regulators, he said.

Just to be clear here, what Boehner considers an “ant” was a severe economic crash that nearly collapsed the global financial system.

Jon Chait added, “Republicans have tried not to admit this, but Boehner pretty much spelled out what they think. The underlying problems in the financial system are minor (‘an ant’) and the main solution is just to hope regulators do a better job than they did before.”

This, like a variety of other candid Republican moments of late, seems like the kind of quote that might matter to voters. Indeed, it’s something of a bookend to John McCain’s “fundamentals of the economy are strong” line from 2008 — the GOP sees an economic crisis, the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations, and Republicans just don’t think it’s that big a deal.

This was a crisis that led to 8 million U.S. job losses and $17 trillion in lost retirement savings and net worth. What’s more, it was a crisis that could have been prevented had safeguards and accountability measures been in place to regulate Wall Street.

And now that Democrats want to approve such safeguards, Boehner’s not only against the effort, he thinks the whole endeavor is unnecessary, since the crisis was just “an ant.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the man who would be Speaker.