I have made it no secret that I am not a big fan of John Boehner. I have been more than a little harsh in my critique of his handling of the House of Representatives and the failed negotiations he conducted with President Obama. I am here today to say I own Speaker Boehner an apology. I still wonder if another Republican would be a better choice to run the people’s house, but I may have underestimated the ideology of the man he has tried to deal with. Barack Obama is a true ideologue.
I was first alerted to this article in the Wall Street Journal by The Lonely Conservative. Even those of us who have been harshly critical of President Obama could take a step back after learning just how strongly Obama believes the rhetoric he has espoused, before, during, and after his campaign for reelection. Stephen Moore’s revelations are more than a little eye-opening, even to someone like me, who has zero trust that President Obama will do the right thing for our country.
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: “At one point several weeks ago,” Mr. Boehner says, “the president said to me, ‘We don’t have a spending problem.’ ”
The president’s insistence that Washington doesn’t have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called “a health-care problem.” Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—”They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system”—he replied: “Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem.” He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: “I’m getting tired of hearing you say that.”
Mr. Boehner confirms that at one critical juncture he asked Mr. Obama, after conceding on $800 billion in new taxes, “What am I getting?” and the president replied: “You don’t get anything for it. I’m taking that anyway.”
Why has the president been such an immovable force when it comes to cutting spending? “Two reasons,” Mr. Boehner says. “He’s so ideological himself, and he’s unwilling to take on the left wing of his own party.” That reluctance explains why Mr. Obama originally agreed with the Boehner proposal to raise the retirement age for Medicare, the speaker says, but then “pulled back. He admitted in meetings that he couldn’t sell things to his own members. But he didn’t even want to try.”
Seriously, how do you negotiate with someone who refuses to acknowledge the problems our country is facing? How is possible to reach a real compromise when your offers are met with “I’ll take that, now give me more”? The answer is simple. You can not negotiate in good faith with someone such as President Obama. He has no interest in our positions on policy, unless he can manipulate and twist them around to meet his own purpose. Given that the media stands at the ready to spread his rhetoric as gospel, he has done quite the job of doing just that. So, to Speaker John Boehner, please accept my humble apologies. Even as someone who prides himself as being knowledgeable about Barack Obama and his policies, I failed to realize just how much of an ideologue our President really is. No matter how important the most pressing issue of our day is, namely government spending, it can not be addressed when the leader of the most powerful nation on the Earth refuses to acknowledge that the problem even exists.
Where do we go from here? What should the Republicans do in trying to face Obama down over the debt ceiling and our deficits? Given the current state of affairs, I say it’s time to dig in their heels and force Obama to the table, whether he wants to come or not. Clearly, compromising with him hasn’t worked out so well for us. We gave, he took, and now he wants more. The battle lines are already being drawn and he even says he will refuse to negotiate over the debt ceiling. I say it’s time we called his bluff and make Obama show his true colors.