Boehner tries, and fails, to offer policy details

BOEHNER TRIES, AND FAILS, TO OFFER POLICY DETAILS…. A couple of weeks ago, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spoke to the Washington Post‘s Dan Balz about what voters could expect from a Republican-led chamber. It didn’t go especially well — Boehner refused to offer any kind of details to back up his platitudes.

Yesterday, at a Christian Science Monitor luncheon, Boehner tried to offer a little more substance, but for anyone who takes policy matters at all seriously, it was a sad display.

In a meeting with several reporters this afternoon, House Minority Leader John Boehner outlined the top three measures he’d pursue if he becomes Speaker of the House next Congress to create new jobs. But, those who thought he’d outline specific programs and how they would create jobs were disappointed with a familiar litany of wish-list items: repeal health care reform, eschew climate legislation, and renew the Bush tax cuts.

In other words, repeal a program that largely hasn’t yet taken effect; prevent new legislation that is also not in effect; and keep a current tax structure in place. Step four: profit. Or jobs.

Let’s take Boehner’s approach to job creation one point at a time.

1. The would-be Speaker thinks the Affordable Care Act is an “impediment for employment,” in part because it “will it ruin the best health care system in the world.” This is idiotic. There’s evidence to suggest the ACA will create millions of jobs, and no evidence of the law discouraging job creation. Indeed, the law has barely even started — what Boehner wants is the old, dysfunctional system that wasn’t doing any favors for the economy.

2. Boehner thinks saying “no cap and trade” will help create jobs. In reality, the Democratic energy/climate proposal would create a lot of jobs in a growing global industry, but there’s also the question of logic — Boehner thinks opposing a policy that does not yet exist will create jobs. In other words, a key part of Boehner’s jobs agenda is to … absolutely nothing.

3. Boehner’s convinced that Bush’s failed economic policies, if we just leave the tax rates in place, will eventually work. Sure, they failed miserably in the last decade — worst modern presidency for job creation, massive deficits, weak economic growth — but why should failure discourage repetition?

I have several concerns when it comes to John Boehner’s role as a congressional leader, but near the top of the list is the fact that he doesn’t seem to know anything about public policy. He’s presumably had time to read up on such things, but he’s chosen not to. Worse, Boehner seems to think he knows quite a bit about these issues, despite his apparent bewilderment.

I care that Boehner is wrong about practically everything, but at least one can have a reasonable debate with knowledgeable people with a different perspective. With Boehner, it seems he’s just clueless, uninterested and ignorant about the basics of contemporary policy disputes. Can anyone think of a time they’ve heard John Boehner speak intelligently about any subject? Ever? Can anyone identify an issue where Boehner has demonstrated even the slightest bit of expertise? Or even knowledge?

If he’s the best House Republicans have to offer, we’re all in very deep trouble.