Does Anybody Here Speak Boehner?

by Jonathan Chait | July 28, 2011

I am trying to figure out what sort of factual circumstances could make this argument by John Boehner true:

“There are only three possible outcomes in this battle: President Obama gets his blank check; America defaults; or we call the president’s bluff by coming together and passing a bill that cuts spending and can pass in the United States Senate,” Boehner told the rank and file, according to aides to the speaker. “There is no other option."

Somebody explain this to me. So the first two options are "default" or "blank check." Default means failing to lift the debt ceiling. How, then, is lifting the debt ceiling without other changes a "blank check"? Was it a blank check for every other president who got a debt ceiling hike? If you want to limit the amount of money spent under Obama, why not just pass bills reducing expenditures? You could even specify your desired level of spending and refuse to authorize anything above that level.

Then we have Boehner's claim that only a bill that cuts spending can pass the Senate. Except the Senate majority leader has proposed a plan, with some bipartisan support, that would not cut spending. You could pass that. Indeed, the Boehner plan almost certainly can't pass the Senate.

The we have the bit about no other option." There are, obviously, a huge number of other options. Perhaps Boehner is suggesting that his caucus won't pass anything else, so there's no option other than the ones his House is willing to pass. But if that's the case, why is "blank check" one of the options? Is he saying that could pass the House? If so, let's pass it!

Sadly, I don't think Boehner is saying that. But I honestly have no idea what he's saying. I understand that he's attempting to present the options in such a way that his plan appears like the only reasonable option, but even the internal logic of his argument seems incoherent.

Source URL: http://www.newrepublic.com//blog/jonathan-chait/92818/does-anybody-here-speak-boehner