The would-be Speaker

THE WOULD-BE SPEAKER…. When it comes to House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), the record of failure is clearly a problem. The record of lying is disheartening. The record of mindless, knee-jerk opposition to everything is annoying. The reluctance to take public policy seriously is frustrating.

But when push comes to shove, the most troublesome aspect to Boehner is the fact that he simply has no idea what he’s talking about.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Thursday defended tax cuts enacted under President George W. Bush, saying they did not lead to the deficit that currently confronts the country.

“It’s not the marginal tax rates … that’s not what led to the budget deficit,” he told reporters, adding, “The revenue problem we have today is a result of what happened in the economic collapse some 18 months ago.” […]

He also said that slashing marginal tax rates has actually buoyed revenue levels. “We’ve seen over the last 30 years that lower marginal tax rates have led to a growing economy, more employment and more people paying taxes,” he said.

It’s hard to overstate how painfully wrong this is. Clearly, Boehner is entitled to his opinions and twisted ideology, but these remarks have no basis in reality.

For those who believe empirical facts exist, we know exactly what caused the $1.3 trillion budget deficit Republicans left for Democrats to deal with. Boehner’s humiliating gibberish notwithstanding, Bush’s tax cuts are the single biggest factor in the budget shortfall — and will remain the single biggest contributor to the deficit over the next decade.

That’s not opinion; that’s not supposition. It’s just reality. Boehner doesn’t have to like it, but it’s ridiculous for him to deny it.

As for Boehner’s argument that lower tax rates create “more employment,” I’d remind the confused conservative that Clinton raised taxes and created 23 million jobs. Bush, with Boehner’s help, slashed taxes, created huge deficits, and fell 22 million jobs short of Clinton’s total.

Boehner isn’t just wrong; his entire understanding of recent events is the exact opposite of the world as it exists.

But there’s a larger importance to this, beyond just the head-shaking frustration that comes with Boehner’s shocking cluelessness. As Brian Beutler noted, Boehner’s remarks are also a reminder that, should Republicans retake the reins of government power, they will go right back to the Bush/Cheney policies that got us into this mess in the first place. Why? Because clowns like Boehner seriously believe that those policies worked.

Be afraid.

Update: The CBPP has a new item fact-checking Boehner’s claim. It’s worth checking out.