Boehner tries to walk back ‘so be it’

BOEHNER TRIES TO WALK BACK ‘SO BE IT’…. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) created some trouble for himself this week, talking about his caucus’ plans to make unemployment worse on purpose.

Boehner was asked Tuesday about expected job losses as a result of Republican budget cuts, and he replied, “In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs. If some of those jobs are lost, so be it.”

As a factual matter, Boehner was simply wrong about the figure. But as a matter of basic decency, it was bizarre to hear Washington’s most powerful Republican admit that Americans would lose their jobs as the result of the GOP plan.

Today, Boehner tried to walk it back, but his new line isn’t much better than the old one.

After Democrats seized earlier this week on a comment by Boehner, in which he said that if Americans lose work because of spending cuts, “so be it,” Boehner said he didn’t want to see anyone lose their job.

“I don’t want anyone to lose their job, whether they’re a federal employee or not,” Boehner said at his weekly press conference. “But come on, we’re broke.”

It’s nice that the Speaker doesn’t “want” to make unemployment worse, but personal motivations are really only a small part of the problem here.

Credible estimates suggest Boehner’s own budget plan would force 800,000 to 1 million Americans from their jobs. Are we now expected to believe that the Speaker doesn’t “want” this to happen, but he’s willing to do it anyway?

As for the notion that “we’re broke,” it’s curious that Boehner pushed a $3 billion earmark this week, intending to build an engine for the Defense Department doesn’t want and doesn’t need. If “we’re broke,” why does the Speaker think we have money to waste? For that matter, why did Boehner push expensive tax breaks, without paying for them, if “we’re broke”?

And more to the point, are we likely to be less “broke” if we force a million American workers into unemployment?

Today’s defense, such as it is, seems to be about making Boehner appear less callous. That’s fine, as far as it goes. But the point here isn’t the Speaker’s emotional state — the point is he supports a plan that would deliberately make unemployment worse, which sane people should consider problematic. I don’t care what the Speaker prefers in some ideal scenario; I care that he wants to hand out a million pink slips in the midst of a jobs crisis.