Oh!pinion Rotating Header Image

Boehner talks business orthodoxy
for cynical fun and political profit

Boehner

Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, thinks our federal government should be run just like a business, and said so in his TV speech last night following President Obama’s address about raising the debt ceiling and deficit-reduction efforts.

Before I served in Congress, I ran a small business in Ohio. I was amazed at how different Washington, D.C., operated than every business in America. Where most American businesses make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means, in Washington more spending and more debt is business as usual.

If there was no other reason to regard Boehner as ignorant about the government he’s made himself a part of for many years, that statement would be more than enough.

The reason is simple: the business of business is making profit, while the “business” of government is serving the people in all sorts of ways, unfortunately sometimes including waging war, based not on financial imperatives, but rather on people’s needs and preferences.

The difference is cast in stark relief when the economy is depressed. The first thing businesses do when the economy goes south is cut the payroll. Sound government economic policy in those circumstances is to shore up demand by increasing spending, thus acting as a countervailing force that discourages additional layoffs and promotes hiring.

Because tax revenues decline during recessions and depressions, stimulative spending is necessarily deficit spending. There is no harm in that. To the contrary, by limiting or reversing a downward spiral in which falling demand leads to more and more layoffs, ensuring even lower demand, government’s deficit spending is an investment in hastening recovery. Recovery brings with it revenues to reduce the deficit and start paying down the national debt.

That all goes against Republicans’ ideology. Boehner revealed part of why that ideology is out of sync with reality, bad for the economy and, if implemented, hellish for millions of Americans. It’s a matter of inappropriately imposing business imperatives and standard operating procedure on our government and the people our government serves.

Such inappropriateness isn’t attributable to ideology alone. Republicans’ recently rediscovered zeal for fiscal austerity is propelled by political ambition. By blowing up the need to raise the debt ceiling into a manufactured crisis and using that to blackmail the president and congressional Democrats into an orgy of budget slashing, Boehner and the rest of the Republicans are trying to reverse economic recovery into a downward spiral.

It all sounds so innocent, though. To hear Boehner tell it, he and his horde just want government to be as sensible and responsible as managers of businesses large and small.

The cynical truth is that what Boehner and the rest of the Republicans really want is to send the “misery index” through the roof ahead of the 2012 election. If that means financially ruining millions more working-class and middle-class Americans, bankrupting thousands more businesses, a few states and localities, so be it.

Because, what Boehner and the Republican Party are really about is the same thing President George W. Bush was really about when he set the country up for the mess it’s in: anything to win.


For an excellent, brief, yet remarkably complete synopsis of the current economic situation, see A boom in corporate profits, a bust in jobs, wages.


26 Comments

  1. Jolly Roger says:

    Boehner really, and truly, does not know what he is saying. He’s been so drunk for so long that I doubt he knows what he said yesterday.

  2. Boehner is wrong when he says “most American businesses make the hard choices to pay their bills and live within their means”. Most businesses cannot run efficiently without a line of credit. That is why available credit is so important for small businesses.

  3. I’m not too worried about this man anymore. Neither the old-guard nor the Tea Party are supporting him. He’s really created a cesspool for himself and he deserves all the shit he gets.

  4. Tom Harper says:

    I’m so f*ckin’ tired of that ongoing rightwing soundbite of “if I ran my business the way the government…” and the millions of dunces who keep parroting it without even knowing what they’re saying.

    And for some odd reason, teabaggers always seem to “forget” that slogan when it comes to throwing trillions of dollars at the Pentagon and the Prison Industrial Complex.

  5. S.W. Anderson says:

    J.R., Boehner might be a lush, but I think he knew exactly what he was saying and what he and his fellow Republicans and tea partyers want to do in preparation for the 2012 election.

    Jerry Critter, that’s an excellent point. I will add that most “too big to fail” businesses aren’t shy about accepting taxpayer-funded bailouts after their greed and excess create another economic bust. That’s really living beyond their means, because responsible business practice is to never risk more than they can afford to lose.

    L.P., if the economy collapses again and the GOP’s financial industry and rich supporters decide he was too lame at controlling tea party extremists, he’ll definitely be in deep doo-doo, to use Bush 41’s expression. (My hankie will remain dry, BTW.)

    Tom, it’s one more simple, deceptive and idiotic catch line Republicans repeat until the sheeple unquestioningly accept it as unassailable truth. Republicans have an endless supply of them.

  6. It’s insidious enough that the awful language of the alchemy of economics has permeated virtually every segment of life, becoming the benchmark by how we define happiness, then to have yokels like Orange Julius ramble on makes it doubly so.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      Randal, Boehner might be Orange Julius to you, but he’s Harvery Wallbanger with attitude to me. There are places where one can live the ascetic life, but America isn’t one of them.

  7. Dave Dubya says:

    That guy makes a typical drunken asshole a lovable character by comparison. All you need to do is buy the drunk a drink and he’ll treat you better than the Orange Screwdriver will.

  8. free0352 says:

    I think the government is being run like a drunken frat party with strippers right now, so at this point just about any change in direction would be an improvement.

    BTW, Anyone in the Republican party who matters (not to mention Libertarians) don’t care for him either. Damn, here’s the link again.

  9. S.W. Anderson says:

    Dave, as sorry a sold-out, corporate errand boy piece of work as Boehner is, I find him easier to stomach than Cantor.

    Free, don’t complain about Boehner here. Tell the U.S. Chamber, Koch brothers, Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil and America’s 400-plus billionaires how dissatisfied you are. They are who Boehner works for.

  10. free0352 says:

    I wish he worked for Libertarian Koch brothers. Instead he works for elitist old school Republicans… flailing one way to apease the RNC and the other to satisfy we Tea Partiers who got the whole lot elected.

    Too bad he’s moving to compromise. He should have stuck to cut, cap, and ballence. He better come arround, otherwise I see him not only loosing his speakership, but perhaps his seat all together via primary challenge.

  11. Craig says:

    Boehner is neither here nor there. The issue is the extreme radicalization of the Republican Party to the point that most Republicans in office have thrown pragmatism out the window. Make a list of the very real problems that Americans are facing and today’s Republicans have virtually no realistic solutions to any of them.

    The theme Democrats should be pushing over and over are simply these:

    1) Republican politicians are job killers. They are job killers at the state level and they are job killers at the federal level.

    2) The radical Republicans call themselves the “tea party.” This is ironic since what they really are, to their core, are old-fashioned Tories. All their policies do nothing more than protect wealth, privilege and cronyism while ignoring the real economic needs of the vast majority of Americans. They are paid by wealthy conservatives and they serve wealthy conservatives. They are no different than the corrupt British ministers bought and paid for by George III, the same crowd Americans fought against in 1776.

  12. Jolly Roger says:

    I actually disagree about Junket John. He’s never been terribly intelligent, and I think he bought himself (and that is EXACTLY what he did) the Speaker’s position because he thought it would be a hoot.

    I don’t think he “knows” anything beyond what he is told to know. His few lucid moments lately are probably coming from Wall Street.

  13. free0352 says:

    Well, if they were really doing what the Tea Party wants they’d be government job killers, that’s true.

    The deficit and national debt, and the tax code have a direct relationship with the economy. That’s why even though between Bush and Obama we’ve had more stimulus than at any time in American history and yet the problem has not only persisted, it’s gotten worse. Much worse.

    There is a bit of a civil war in the Republican Party, but of course I wouldn’t characterize it as a radicalization. It’s moving away from the politics of the religious right (though of course they didn’t go anywhere, so you still see them) and instead moving to a new set of core values. Some of those values you’ve heard before – such as limited government. However, Republicans today are actually making politicians like Boehner live up to that. The second is a strong fiscal conservatism. Hopefully, we can keep the message of low taxes, but have spending reflect the reduced tax levels. Tax and spend is bad, borrow and spend is even worse.

    I’m very active in the Tea Party movement, and I have no problem telling you what we’re after. It’s not secret. We want government spending as percentage of GDP to reflect pre-New Deal or at least Great Society levels.

  14. free0352 says:

    … and as a vigorous supporter of the Tea Party, I can tell you we all get a hoot out of you claiming we’re all on the pay roll of Rich Oil Tycoons and the Koch brothers. We’re wondering when we’ll be getting our pay checks.

  15. Jack Jodell says:

    What Boner DIDN’T mention, of course, was the way he undoubtedly ducked out early fairly often to indulge in a few rounds of golf or an evening of cocktails he had “earned” while his employees worked their nuts off at a pay scale below what they deserved. These Chamber of Commerce type phonies are all alike.

  16. Craig says:

    free0352, I’m sure Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and other wealthy conservatives are quite happy to receive your services for free. They will be the main beneficiaries of your tea party support. I’ve known a lot of people who are Republicans. Most of them are hardworking and decent. But they don’t run today’s Republican party. Wealthy conservatives do. Such conservatives have a very simple mode of operation that they live by: they overvalue what they do for you and undervalue what you do for them.

    If you don’t already know, a small army of Republican operatives are paid reasonably well. One of their jobs is to distract people from the real problems of our nation so that wealthy conservatives can continue business as usual. One of their other jobs is to round up people willing to volunteer their time at no charge.

  17. S.W. Anderson says:

    Craig, as always you make excellent points. I see tea party Republicans of the kind now in Congress as the same radical-right Republicans who made up Bush 43’s loyal base throughout his reign of error. Those loyalists knew being Bush diehards would be death at the polls, so virtually overnight, using the tea party gimmick, they recycled themselves as something supposedly new and different. That doesn’t describe everyone who ID’s themselves as tea party, but it fits the ones active in office seeking and office holding, IMO, and the new badge seems to free them to kick it up a notch, being more reckless and irresponsible.

    J.R., I’m sure you know Boehner better than I do. I have a hunch, though, that if his speakership was bought, he had somebody else write the check.,

    Free, when I served in the military being active in politics was strictly forbidden. It was completely inappropriate then and it’s no different now. It could also turn out to be a career ender.

    Jack, Boehner strikes me as the type who can’t say enough about the virtues of (other people doing) hard work.

  18. free0352 says:

    Anderson

    It’s legal so long as I don’t do it in uniform, obviously. I don’t represent the military when I’m doing politics. Today, we HAVE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS WHO ARE SERVING IN THE RESERVES. It’s not a career ender, it’s a career inhancer.

  19. free0352 says:

    One of their jobs is to distract people from the real problems of our nation so that wealthy conservatives can continue business as usual. One of their other jobs is to round up people willing to volunteer their time at no charge.

    You just summed up politics in general. Don’t be idealistic. It’s always been that way, with both parties. Political ads don’t buy themselves you know. I unlike you guys don’t have to be ashamed or hide the fact we work with wealthy people.

  20. S.W. Anderson says:

    Free0352 wrote: “. . . (My political activity) is legal so long as I don’t do it in uniform. . .”

    Not as much as you seem to think. About.com has a list of UCMJ and DoD do’s and don’ts. These should be of particular interest.

    “Cannot – Use contemptuous words against the officeholders described in 10 U.S.C. 888 (10 U.S.C. 888 lists the following officeholders: President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which the military member is on duty).”

    Oops!

    “Cannot – Allow or cause to be published partisan political articles signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.”

    I strongly suggest you Google for UCMJ Article 88 and read DoD Directive 1344-10. The career you save could be your own.

  21. free0352 says:

    There are policy letters on this Anderson, but should you want to contact CID you can feel free. My blog name is regestered with G-6, and they do read it.

    What you forgot to leave out of that, is that I surely can’t do those things IN UNIFORM. I’ve never done that, and my military service has little bearing on this. I didn’t surrender my 1st Amendment rights when I enlisted.

    I wouldn’t put much faith in About.com, I got my legal advice from the Judge Advocate’s office.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      I’m not looking to tattle on you, although as a veteran I don’t think much of what you’re doing. I look at it as many veterans and, I’m sure, many on active duty, do. That is, if we could honor the spirit and letter of the regs, you should too.

      I suspect if you discussed this with a JAG you didn’t do it in a very thorough, specific way. I’m guessing you had a JAG say a few things about it at commander’s call, or something like that.

      The rules I cited above are emphatic and don’t distinguish between being in or out of uniform. As for giving up your First Amendment rights by enlisting, to a considerable extent you did. You can deny that and choose to ignore it, but doing so is at your own risk. I suggest you read the things I pointed out and discuss them in more detail with an Army lawyer or your first sergeant.

      One last thing. I realize it’s sometimes desirable or necessary to add something after posting a comment. Doing that repeatedly is an imposition and not appreciated.

  22. free0352 says:

    Service people are not second class citizens, and we are allowed the same freedom of speech as anyone provided we follow orders and don’t violate OPSEC. I do neither. What this DOES PROVE is way back when, when I suggested your support for Soldiers was hollow, shallow and fake I was right.

    I didn’t give up ANY of my rights when I enlisted. I still have them all, and I exercise them as a citizen. My blog is monitored by 35 Lema counter intel types whose sole job on earth is to monitor our facebook pages, myspace pages and blogs. I’ve made it easy on them, as I’ve provided them with both my blog address (and obviously profile name) and face book account address. From my sitemeter, I know they show up from time to time.

    They don’t seem to care that I exercise my 1st Amendment rights, and I think it’s funny that you do.

  23. free0352 says:

    And by “In Uniform” I mean anything. Obviously the Military doesn’t have an opinion on politics one way or another… nor should it. I in this capacity don’t represent the Military, nor should I. When I AM representing the military, I’m 100% neutral and shut up and follow orders provided they are lawful.

    However….

    I’m ALSO a citizen of this country, and I ALSO HAVE ALL MY RIGHTS. If you don’t like it, tough shit. I don’t care. I don’t need your permission, nor the Army’s permission to have an opinion, to donate to political candidates, or to participate in politics… provided I make it clear that in this capacity I’m acting as a citizen and not a Soldier.

    I think I’ve made that perfectly clear.

    Therefore, suck it up.

    1. S.W. Anderson says:

      It’s not just your blog, it’s wherever you are. Military service is 24/7/365, whether you choose to recognize it or not. You go right ahead and enjoy your interpretation of your rights any way you want to. The more the better.

      “What this DOES PROVE is way back when, when I suggested your support for Soldiers was hollow, shallow and fake I was right.”

      What your insult proves is that you’re exactly what I think you are. Thanks for honoring my suggestion to say what you have to say in one comment instead of two or more.

      Now, you take your arrogant, know-it-all, insulting attitude elsewhere. You’re no longer welcome here. Nothing hollow, shallow or fake about that.,