Debt Ceiling: Clueless GOPers Edition

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A pack of rookie House Republicans went public on Thursday with their support for House Speaker John Boehner’s retooled deficit reduction bill, which would trim spending by $917 billion over ten years in exchange for a short-term debt ceiling increase. But what stuck out at the freshmen’s press conference wasn’t their newfound support for Boehner’s bill (some had been undecided until late). It was their inability to cite real-life facts to support their positions.

First there was Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. He described the Boehner bill as a “win” for the American people, and for a country sagging under the weight of a $1.3 trillion deficit. That deficit, Kinzinger insisted, was President Obama’s fault. After all, in 2007, under President George W. Bush, we had all the same corporate tax loopholes and tax rates that are in place now, and back then the deficit was only about $160 billion. Today it’s more than eight times higher. And because Barack Obama is president today, that means the deficit clearly must be all his fault.

Holy wrong. As this New York Times graph highlights, the deficit skyrocketed under President Bush in 2008, as the government grappled with the bursting of the housing bubble and the financial meltdown—a crisis that goes unmentioned by Kinzinger.

Moments later it was Rep. Scott Tipton’s turn to bash the Democrats. “They have no plan,” he said. “They have no ideas.” Well, that’s not quite true. President Obama has outlined any number of ideas—cutting $4 trillion over 12 years, trimming defense and non-defense spending, even shrinking entitlement programs by $650 billion—over the past few months. To say Obama has no plan nor any ideas, as the GOP insists on doing, is so wrong it’s laughable.

On went the boisterous speeches, with one GOP freshman even brandishing a piece of paper with the University of Notre Dame’s famous “Play Like a Champion Today” slogan on it. After a while, the assembled rookies looked hot and ready to wrap. But not before a reporter asked about the Boehner bill’s sure death in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“The Senate’s gonna pass this thing!” Rep. Kinzinger yelled.

Never mind the 51 Senate Democrats and two independents who pledged to vote against it should it pass the House, or President Obama’s promise to veto it. As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s assured reporters today, Boehner’s bill is “a political act that has no life beyond its existence in the House.”

That didn’t seem to bother Kinzinger, though, who stood there grinning alongside his fellow freshmen, all of them sweating in their suits and skirts before the biggest vote of their short political careers.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

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