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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Drunk On ManTan and Nicotine

by digby

So Boehner is walking back his comments about having the government pay for the BP spill, but let's face facts. He was just on autopilot, echoing the Chamber of Commerce line verbatim and then got caught. Here's Greg Sargent:

It all started when TPM asked Boehner at his press conference today whether he agrees with the Chamber of Commerce, which has said BP and the Federal government should pitch in to clean up the spill.

Boehner replied: "I think the people responsible in the oil spill -- BP and the federal government -- should take full responsibility for what's happening there."

Boehner's office subsequently clarified, saying he'd misheard the question. His aides pointed to this previous Boehner quote: "Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up their mess." And Boehner has also said we must "hold BP accountable for the clean up costs."

Those quotes are pretty clear. But the problem is that the Chamber's position is that while BP is on the hook for the cleanup, its liability for damages should be limited, meaning inevitably that taxpayers should bear some of that liability.

Sargent reports that the spokesman has subsequently said that Boehner means BP should pay for damages too. Ok. Case closed.

But what that also means is that Boehner must have been drunk on ManTan or high on nicotine and Red Bull when he replied the way he did to this direct question from Brian Beutler:

[L]ast Friday US Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue ... said he opposes efforts to stick BP, a member of the Chamber, with the bill. "It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game," he said. "Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. We are all going to have to do it. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies and we will figure out a way to do that."

So today I asked Boehner, "Do you agree with Tom Donohue of the Chamber that the government and taxpayers should pitch in to clean up the oil spill?"

Here's Boehner's exact quote in response:

"I think the people responsible in the oil spill--BP and the federal government--should take full responsibility for what's happening there."

The Chamber gave the game away. It's not politically acceptable to talk about Bailing out Big Oil, but that's the game plan and Boehner slipped up and accidentally told the truth.

They should not be allowed to back off of this. Boehner actually has a viable opponent this time, in West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran Justin Coussoule. The Democrats, following their usual one-sided Marquess of Queensbury rules, will not "intervene" in the majority leader's district, but that's no reason that real Democrats shouldn't.

Here's a post by Coussoule that Howie featured on DWT on the occasion of Blue America's endorsement of his campaign:

John Boehner: Fighting for Wall Street Bankers

-by Justin Coussoule

If Friday’s filing of a lawsuit for fraud by the Security and Exchange Commission against Goldman Sachs left the Wall Street banks feeling a little uneasy, they can always take comfort in the knowledge that they have a rock solid champion and protector in House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). Boehner, who has received over $3.4 million from the financial services industry in contributions ($1.2 million more than he has received from any other industry) has been cozying up to Wall Street for years. But his overtures have grown especially bold in the months leading up to Congressional consideration of a sweeping reform bill drafted by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

In February of this year Boehner met James Dimon, the chairman and CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, at a Capitol Hill restaurant. Over drinks, Boehner reminded Dimon that House Republicans, led by Boehner himself, had consistently worked to block efforts by the President and Congressional Democrats to curb Wall Street payouts and pass regulatory reform of the financial industry, and that such obstructionism should not go unappreciated by Wall Street campaign contributors.

A month later, speaking before the American Bankers Association about the proposed Senate bill, Boehner told the crowd of bankers that even if the Senate were to pass a bill, he was confident that reconciling it with the House version would delay reform for at least another year. And after assuring the bankers of delay in the House of the much needed reform bill, Boehner encouraged the bankers to stand up for themselves against Congressional efforts at regulating Wall Street, adding:

“Don’t let those punk little staffers take advantage of you... the more regulations you have to comply with the more cost you have there and less amount you are going to have available to loan to customers.”

Of course, such outrageous remarks by Boehner come as little surprise given his voting record in the House during the eighteen months since Wall Street’s greed and recklessness nearly ruined our country’s economy and dragged us into the depths of a second Great Depression.

Twice, Boehner has voted against Wall Street reform, once against regulatory reform of the mortgage industry and three times against regulating the pay of the Wall Street bankers who nearly destroyed our economy. Votes made even more outrageous by the fact that Boehner voted for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (‘the bank bailout’).

It seems Boehner had no problem with handing over $700 billion of our taxpayer money to save the bankers who devastated the retirements, home values and investments of million of hard-working, middle-class Americans, but he refuses to impose even the slightest regulation on those same greedy and reckless bankers in order to protect the American people from being victimized yet again. Few issues are more emblematic of how completely Boehner is out of touch with the values of his constituents back in southwest Ohio than his complete opposition to Wall Street reform of any kind in shameless pursuit of Wall Street campaign money.

Misrepresented for two decades by John Boehner, Washington’s ultimate insider, Ohio’s Eighth District suffers from an unemployment rate above the national average, some of the fastest dying communities in Ohio and a once-proud manufacturing base left in tatters by years of failed Republican economic and foreign trade policies. Nearly vacant main streets and shuttered factories throughout the Eighth District have left the residents asking whose interests their absentee Congressman is representing in Washington-- working families or Wall Street bankers?

The people of Ohio’s Eighth District deserve much better than John Boehner. We deserve a responsive, accountable public servant to represent us in Washington. The stakes are too high for anything less. The time for change is now.

Boehner is so out of touch and servile to Big Business that he's making mistakes. Big ones. Party leadership does get defeated --- just ask Tom Daschle and Tom Foley. This challenger is as mainstream as they come and he's very effective.The Democratic leadership should be helping and grooming him but so far, they aren't. So we should.

Correction: Coussoule is not an Iraq war vet. My mistake.