Boehner’s other concession

BOEHNER’S OTHER CONCESSION…. When House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled his reluctant willingness to go along with President Obama’s tax-cut policy yesterday, it shook up the larger policy debate. But Greg Sargent flagged another exchange from Boehner’s “Face the Nation” appearance that, at least rhetorically, matters nearly as much.

BOB SCHIEFFER:. The Joint Committee on Taxation, which is a non-partisan body, says that only three percent of those small business people you keep talking about all the small business people, they’re going to get taxed, only three percent would be affected by that. Do you quarrel with that figure? Is that a right figure or a wrong figure?

BOEHNER: Well, it may be three percent, but it’s half of small business income. Because, obviously, the top three percent have half of the gross income for those companies that we would term small businesses. And this is why you don’t want to punish these people at a time when you have a weak economy.

For months, one of the central GOP talking points has been that if Democrats allow tax rates for the wealthy return to 2000 levels — as dictated by the Republicans’ own tax policy from the Bush era — it would undermine small businesses. One far-right congressman, Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas, went so far as to insist that the policy would increase taxes on 94% of America’s small businesses.

Yesterday, Boehner effectively conceded that Neugebauer and Republicans like him aren’t even close to telling the truth. We’re talking about 3% of small businesses that would see a difference.

DNC spokesperson Hari Sevugan said in a statement, “Now that Boehner admits at least 97% of small business won’t be affected if the Bush tax cuts expire, we can put an end to the canard that John Boehner and Republicans are fighting to extend tax breaks for anyone but super-rich individuals. And while Republicans are fighting for tax cuts that they now admit won’t help small business they are holding hostage a small business jobs bill that actually provides significant tax benefits for most small businesses.”

Some Republicans are already less-than thrilled that Boehner grudgingly endorsed Obama’s tax-cut plan. The fact that he also undermined a key GOP talking point probably won’t help matters with his caucus.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

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.