Focus groups must have loved ‘blank check’

The Republican National Committee sent out a new fundraising pitch this morning via email, and the subject line read, “Stop Obama’s Blank Check.” The message tells prospective suckers donors (thanks to reader C.R. for the tip):

“[I]f you believe in the Republican plan of forcing the Democrats to cut spending and taking away Obama’s blank check, we need your help.”

And last night, here was House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) message to the nation:

“The sad truth is that the president wanted a blank check six months ago, and he wants a blank check today.”

And early yesterday, here’s what a House GOP leadership aide told Mike Allen about President Obama’s approach to the debt-reduction negotiations.

“Republicans will not give him a $2.4 trillion blank check he can use throughout his re-election campaign.”

To be sure, GOP officials have been experimenting with a lot of talking points lately. The more polls show the American mainstream turning against Republicans, the more party leaders assume it’s time to experiment with new rhetoric.

And most of the time, I can at least understand what the words means. When Republicans talking about “job creators,” for example, I know they’re trying to protect the very rich from having to pay a little more in taxes. When they talk “reforming” entitlements, I know they want to cut Social Security and Medicare.

But “blank check”? What on earth does that even mean?

I’m sure the focus groups loved it. “Blank checks” sound bad (except when Republican Congresses are giving Bush/Cheney blank checks to fight wars).

But even in this mind-numbing, soul-crushing debate, the “blank check” talking point is ludicrous. President Obama isn’t asking for a “blank check.” The nation needs a debt-ceiling increase to pay for the things we’ve already bought, so the White House is simply urging Congress to do its duty, as it’s always done in the past.

It’s not as if Obama is asking Congress to give up its power of the purse; lawmakers will still have to pass appropriations bills. There will be plenty of checks, but none of them will be blank.

Adam Serwer described the claim as “a straight-up lie. Not the everyday, casual fudging that politicians do, but a straight up lie.”

Adam’s right, but I’d just add that it’s the worst kind of lie: it’s incoherent dishonesty.