Debt Ceiling: Clueless GOPers Edition


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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.