*Boehner resents the Republicans’ ‘tough job’

BOEHNER RESENTS THE REPUBLICANS’ ‘TOUGH JOB’…. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) chatted with a group of reporters this week, at a lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. We learned a bit more than usual about Boehner’s perspective on the political landscape.

The House Minority Leader, for example, feels a little left out of the legislative process, still believes it’s a “center-right country,” and didn’t think Bobby Jindal’s speech was all that bad.

But what was especially interesting was Boehner’s complaint about the appeal — or lack thereof — of the Republican Party’s message.

Democratic policies aren’t better, they’re just easier to market to the American people, House Republican Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said today.

“We have a tougher job than our friends across the aisle. They’ve been offering Americans a free lunch for the last 80 years, rather successfully,” he told reporters at a lunch hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Those of us that believe in a smaller, more accountable government, we have a tougher time making our principles relevant to the American people. But it’s our challenge, and we’ve got to do it.”

Someone’s going to have to explain this one to me, because Boehner’s comments appear to be backwards. Eric Kleefeld noted, for example, “Boehner voted in 2003 for the Medicare drug bill, a mega-expensive expansion of entitlement spending with no method laid out on how to pay for it.”

Quite right. Isn’t the notion of a “free lunch” the underlying message of the Republican Party for the last generation? The federal government can, we’ve been told, recklessly cut taxes, spend whatever it wants, rack up huge debts (“deficits don’t matter”), put wars on the national charge card, and encourage policies that contribute to global warming. No consequences, no accountability, no questions asked.

This is especially true on the issue of taxes, since a few too many Republican policymakers strongly believe in the Tax Fairy — the more the government cuts taxes, the more revenue the government collects. That’s insane, of course, but it’s also a rather obvious example of … wait for it … a “free lunch.”

As A.L. explained, it’s especially misguided for Boehner to make this argument now.

[A]s we’re faced with the worst recession in 70 years — and every reputable economist in the world is telling us to deficit spend in order to stave off disaster — the Republican party is suddenly suggesting the Democrats are the party of free lunch. And they’re doing so while still advocating for additional massive tax cuts.

There are all sorts of fair criticisms that can be leveled against the Democratic party, but the Democrats have at least attempted to grapple with the revenue side of the equation over the years. Even the classic Republican charge that Democrats are “tax and spend liberals” acknowledges this. If the Democrats were the party of free lunch, why on earth would they ever suggest raising taxes? So they can be mercilessly attacked by Republicans?

I suspect Boehner’s comments were just a moment of self-pity. If Republicans are losing, it’s not the result of failure, but rather, the inherent burdens of the GOP’s message of frugality and budget discipline.

The only real surprise was that Boehner was able to say it with a straight face.

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