DC at Night

DC at Night

Thursday, September 18, 2014

House Speaker Delivers His Plan and Orange You Glad He Did

Cameras ready to capture John Boehner speech at AEI. Hope they can capture deep orange.
With the possible exception of Halloween pumpkins, nothing in DC is more associated with the color orange than Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, he of the tan face that belies his can-get-cold Ohio roots.

Here are just some examples of that deep color association:

"President Obama is visiting the hometown of House Speaker John Boehner. Obama plans to give a speech and then visit the tanning bed that Boehner grew up in." -- Conan O'Brien

"The world's saddest tangerine." -- John Stewart

"John Boehner will be the new Speaker of the House. It is the highest elected office ever to be reached by an Orange-American." -- Daily Show correspondent Olivia Munn

"Rep. John Boehner is the new speaker of the House. Turn-ons include tax cuts and spray tans." -- Craig Ferguson

"Isn't fall in DC great? The colors are brown, gold, and orange. And that's just in John Boehner's face." -- David Letterman

"You know who Boehner is, right? He's the orange looking guy. See, for Republicans that counts as diversity." -- Jay Leno

So that's why I was so excited to finally encounter Speaker Boehner in person today. He was scheduled to deliver a speech entitled Resetting America's Economic Foundation at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) .  I had made the invited guest list and I had never seen an orange man.

But despite my fondness for many of the comedians above, the funny thing was that in person - on this particular day at least - John Boehner wasn't orange. He wasn't orange when he entered the packed room surrounded by aides and Secret Service agents. He wasn't orange as he sat in the front row listening to AEI President Arthur Brooks introduce him. And he wasn't orange during the 20 minutes he delivered his remarks which outlined 5 ways the emerging energy boom here in the United States offers America "a once-in-a-generation opportunity to resent its economic foundation by addressing the debt, reforming the tax code, fixing the legal system, reigning in excessive regulations, and strengthening the country's educational system to empower Americans and renew our country's future."
Boehner gets ready to speak: No orange here ...
... and Boehner speaking: Still no orange here either.
I looked; I really did. I wanted to see orange. But try as I might, there was no orange to be seen.

So what about Boehner's words? They seemed to please the heavily pro-Republican crowd that packed AEI. But not everyone thought Boehner was right. Here is what the progressive Think Progress group had to say about the remarks:

What Boehner Says: “Let’s fix the whole tax code. Make it pro-growth and pro-family. Bring down the rates for every American, clear out all the loopholes, allow people to do their taxes on two – yes, two – sheets of paper.”
What Boehner Does: The Speaker does not lay out any details of what kind of tax reform he supports, but a look at his support for the Ryan Budget plan is enough: it would raise taxes on middle class families by an average of $1,358 to pay for a $286,000 tax cut for millionaires. This isn’t just unfair—it’s a recipe for economic stagnation. A tax cut for the rich has no measurable effect on growth while a tax cut for everyone else actually does boost the economy.
What Boehner Says: “We have to solve our spending problem. For 53 of the last 60 years, we’ve spent more money than we’ve brought in…It is stealing from our kids and grandkids, robbing them of benefits they’ll never see and leaving them with burdens that are nearly impossible to repay.”
What Boehner Does: There are two sides to any budget deficit, spending and revenue, a reality Boehner has willfully ignored as Speaker. He famously refused a “Grand Bargain” with President Obama in 2011 that would have cut federal spending by $2.2 trillion because the President asked for $650 billion more in revenue and said in 2013 that “the talk about raising revenue is over.”
And speaking of robbing kids, it’s worth noting that Boehner has refused bills that would help state and local governments halt teacher layoffs.
What Boehner Says: “We’ve gotten to a point in America where litigation has become a first resort instead of a last. The costs are staggering: Americans are spending more per person on litigation than just about any other country, and it’s not even close. Our liability costs are more than 2.5 times the average level of Eurozone economies. Not something to be proud of.”
What Boehner Does:The Speaker should first take his own advice on frivolous lawsuits before he begins offering policy prescriptions on litigation. After all, he led the charge this summer to win approval of a resolution authorizing him to sue the Obama Administration for waiving the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate. The lawsuit is the definition of frivolous—not only is it likely to lose, but Boehner doesn’t even support the employer mandate he is suing to enforce!
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