BOEHNER TIES HIMSELF IN KNOTS…. After reports surfaced yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission is going after Goldman Sachs, both sides of the political divide tried to seize on the news to make a larger point. Only one side made sense.

For Democrats, the case was pretty easy — Goldman Sachs’ alleged wrongdoing only reinforces the obvious need to pass Wall Street reform, bringing new safeguards and accountability to the financial system. For congressional Republicans, the argument was a little trickier.

Republicans sought to tie President Barack Obama to Wall Street firm Goldman Sachs after it was hit with civil fraud charges.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement after the Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against the Wall Street titan, calling the firm a “key supporter” of the president’s bid to reform the nation’s financial regulatory system.

“These are very serious charges against a key supporter of President Obama’s bill to create a permanent Wall Street bailout fund,” Boehner said Friday in the statement. “Despite President Obama’s rhetoric, his permanent bailout bill gives Goldman Sachs and other big Wall Street banks a permanent, taxpayer-funded safety net by designating them ‘too big to fail.’ Just whose side is President Obama on?” […]

Boehner’s office also pointed to Goldman employees having collectively contributed more than almost any other company or institution to Obama during the presidential campaign.

Boehner’s analysis of the legislation is, on its face, idiotic. But putting the obvious legislative nonsense aside, I can’t quite wrap my head around Boehner’s political point.

To hear the dimwitted Minority Leader put it, the Obama administration and Goldman Sachs are close allies, and the administration-backed reform bill is intended to help firms like Goldman Sachs. And we now know for sure that administration officials are carrying water for Goldman Sachs because … they just charged Goldman Sachs with fraud.


I’m trying to imagine the conversation in Boehner’s office when the statement was being written. Which genius on Boehner’s staff discovered that the Obama administration is going after Goldman Sachs, regardless of its campaign contributions to Obama, and thought, “A ha! Now we’ve got ’em!”

Let me try to explain this is a way even Boehner can understand: when the Securities and Exchange Commission accuses a major Wall Street firm of fraud, that’s not good for the firm. If the administration were trying to do favors for Goldman Sachs, it wouldn’t file a civil lawsuit against the firm.

“Just whose side is President Obama on?” Well, as of yesterday, he doesn’t appear to be on Goldman’s side. Given that Republicans are trying to shield Wall Street for accountability and safeguards, the better question is, “Whose side is Boehner on?”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.