WH economist: Boehner ‘wants a lot of people to lose their jobs’

WH ECONOMIST: BOEHNER ‘WANTS A LOT OF PEOPLE TO LOSE THEIR JOBS’…. On “Meet the Press” the other day, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) talked quite a bit about his desire to cut spending. Host David Gregory asked Boehner to be a little more specific, and not surprisingly, the GOP leader had a little trouble.

The only vaguely substantive point Boehner could offer was this: “Why don’t we stop the stimulus spending? There’s still about $400 billion or $500 billion of the stimulus plan that has not been spent.”

As a factual matter, that’s clearly wrong, and further evidence that Boehner, when it comes to policy, has no real idea what he’s talking about. But as he and other Republican leaders talk up the notion of scrapping “unspent” stimulus funds, it’s also worth keeping in mind what the consequences of such a move would entail.

Jared Bernstein, Vice President Biden’s chief economist, posted an item to the White House blog this morning, making the point in a provocative way.

John Boehner wants a lot of people to lose their jobs.

We were awfully surprised to hear Rep. Boehner come out for killing jobs en masse in his own state and district by stopping the Recovery Act on last Sunday’s news shows.

Though we’re sure he didn’t know it, the Congressman is advocating to kill the expansion of the Butler County Community Health Center and bring some of the twenty-five highway projects across the district to a grinding halt. Across the state of Ohio, he said that approximately 4 million working families should get an unexpected cut in their paycheck as the Making Work Pay tax credit disappears, unemployed workers should go without unemployment benefits, and major Ohio road projects like the US-33 Nelsonville Bypass project and the Cleveland Innerbelt Modernization project should be stalled or stopped. Oh, and some of the more than 100 clean energy Recovery projects employing workers across the state should be shut down.

Now, Bernstein’s point was to emphasize the fact that there really aren’t “unspent” stimulus funds just lying around. Nearly every penny is going to tax cuts, investments that have already been made, or projects that are already under contract. When it comes to that final 6% of the overall Recovery Act, the award process is nearly complete or the contracts are being finalized. Boehner’s talking point on “Meet the Press” was patently ridiculous.

But nearly as important is the way Bernstein presented the argument: “John Boehner wants a lot of people to lose their jobs.”

That’s both true and the kind of sharp-but-fair language the White House needs to use this campaign season. If it were me, I’d probably use the word “Republican” more than “Boehner” — most voters probably have no idea who John Boehner is — but the point is sharp elbows are more likely to leave a bruise.

If Democrats are really lucky, Boehner’s office will throw a fit, and we can watch a lengthy debate unfold over whether it’s appropriate or inappropriate for a White House economist to say the House Republican leader wants Americans to lose their jobs.