Accommodating confusion

ACCOMMODATING CONFUSION…. There was one other exchange from House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) discussion with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that stood out for me. The host asked the GOP leader about the point of last week’s “Tea Parties.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: [O]n the issue of taxes, I think it’s 43 percent of people who file taxes pay no income tax at all. For the middle fifth of taxpayers, they’re paying just about 3 percent in federal income tax this year.

BOEHNER: Well, you want to go out and explain that to the hundreds of thousands of people around America that showed up for these rallies.

It’s an odd response, isn’t it? Stephanopoulos’ point was reasonable enough, and it helps explain why most Americans believe the current tax system is fair. But Boehner seemed to suggest it doesn’t matter whether existing tax rates are reasonable, what matters is whether conservative activists perceive existing tax rates as reasonable. He didn’t think Stephanopoulos’ evidence was wrong; he thinks his party’s base thinks Stephanopoulos’ evidence as wrong, and that’s more important.

In other words, to hear Boehner tell it, the government should be responsive to the misconceptions of conservative activists. That’s not exactly a compelling pitch.

Boehner suggested Stephanopoulos should try to “go out and explain” the relatively low tax burden “to the hundreds of thousands of people” who attended far-right rallies last week. But if Boehner is one of the most powerful GOP leaders in the country, shouldn’t he “go out and explain” the facts to those who ostensibly look to him for policy guidance?

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