What ‘giving up’ on governing looks like

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) generated a little news yesterday, complaining on Laura Ingraham’s radio show about President Obama taking unilateral steps to boost the economy. But there was something else he said that also stood out for me.

“There is nothing that has disappointed me more over the last eight weeks than to watch the President of the United States basically give up on the economy, and give up on the American people, decide he’s going to quit governing, and spend his entire next 14 months campaigning,” Boehner said. […]

“If the president is serious, he ought to be up here working with us to find common ground to solve the issues that the American people want us to solve,” Boehner said.

The Speaker’s interest in what “the American people want” is touching, isn’t it? Polls show overwhelming, bipartisan support for saving public-sector jobs, investing in infrastructure, and asking millionaires and billionaires to pay a little more in taxes — ideas that Boehner refuses to even consider — but he nevertheless feels comfortable claiming the moral high ground on respecting the public’s wishes. This from a Speaker who’s brought more anti-abortion bills to the House floor than jobs bills.

It’s almost amusing.

But I’m especially interested in this notion that it’s the president who’s decided to “quit governing.” The last time I checked, Obama has been taking his case directly to the electorate, urging Americans to contact Congress and push lawmakers to act, because as the new White House mantra notes, “we can’t wait.” Indeed, the president’s speech invariably notes that the next election is still more than a year away, and the nation needs action now.

That doesn’t sound like someone who’s chosen to “give up on the American people.” It actually sounds like the opposite. As Alan Pyke put it, “If anything, Obama’s giving up on Boehner.”

Meanwhile, Markos Moulitsas posted the work schedule the Speaker’s office released for the House of Representatives in the coming year. In January, for example, the House will work a grand total of six days. By April, that total will soar to eight days of work. Every month in 2012, the House will get at least one week off, and in many cases, two. (In both August and October, House members will get four weeks off.)

The goal of the House GOP leadership, apparently, is to make this an almost-literal do-nothing Congress.

So, remind me, Mr. Speaker. Who’s decided to “quit governing”?