The combination of watching Boehner mindlessly recite talking points, misinformation, straw men and actual contradictions in the face of David Gregory’s incompetent work and silence was a real wrist-slasher this morning.

Let’s go to the tape, and pretend I was in the chair next to our turgid but cringe-worthy rudderless Boehner, not really representing Democrats, but representing rationality itself!

MR. GREGORY: House Republican leader John Boehner, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH): David, thank you.

MR. GREGORY: You’ve just heard from Larry Summers. You’re going to be meeting with the president on Tuesday with fellow Republicans to say, “Hey, we’ve got some different ideas.” What don’t you like about this stimulus plan?

REP. BOEHNER: I just think there’s a lot of slow-moving government spending in this program that won’t work. We know that there’s an ailing economy, and Democrats and Republicans agree to that. I think there’s agreement between Democrats and Republicans and the president that we need to help our ailing economy, we need an economic rescue package. But we all want one that works; the one that helps small businesses, helps American families, helps create jobs and preserve jobs in America. And what we see with their plan is a lot of spending that I just don’t think will work. And so we expressed our concerns to the president on Friday. Eric Cantor, who I had set–had put together a working group of House Republicans, outlined some of our proposals that we think will work better. Let’s allow American families and small businesses to keep more of what they earn. Let’s make sure that there’s incentives for people to invest in our economy, because government can’t do this. As you said earlier, there’s a $2 trillion hole in our economy this year. Government can’t fix this. We can’t borrow and spend our way back to prosperity. But what we can do are provide incentives to businesses and families to reinvest in our economy.

John O: David, if I may jump in here…

Gregory: We welcome our new guest to the panel, a man who is nobody in addition to being a man who nobody listens to, sometimes described as a “blogger” in these strange new times. John paid his way through college working factory jobs that don’t exist anymore, works in corporate America, has health care, and isn’t much in debt.

John O: Thank you, Mr. Gregory. Mr. Boehner, would it be fair to characterize the positions of the Republican Party as one in support of a greater proportion of individual tax cuts and credits relative to what you call “slow-moving” infrastructure improvements? Thank you. Well, where I live, everyone says things are going to get worse not because the Villagers like you and Mr. Gregory are telling us that is what is going to happen, but because we’re watching the economy hurt people we know. We know it because we can see it. We’ve accepted it. So what we’d like to see after a year or two of the suck, as we bloggers are known to call bad things and times, which us little people are going to have go through no matter what you geniuses decide to report or legislate is some shiny new infrastructure like smarter more efficient transportation and a greener energy grid to ride on and upward out the ditch the policies you still support put is in. And maybe some health care.

Dave, you were saying to Mr Boehner? Sorry to interrupt.

MR. GREGORY: Well, let me stop you there, because you say that you can’t borrow and spend. Of course, government has done this for a long time when they need to. The reality right now is if you want Americans to spend, they’re not doing it. They’re worried about their jobs, they’re worried about the value of their homes. They’re not spending money, they’re not borrowing money. They’re actually doing the prudent thing right now to do in a downtime, which is to save and to pay down debt. Doesn’t the government have to be the spender of last resort?

REP. BOEHNER: Yes, but it’s a matter of how we do it. If we allow American families to keep more of what they earn, they’re going to save it, invest it or spend it, all of which are good for the economy. And our plan would allow American families, joint filers to keep almost $3200, up to $3200 of their money. They can, they can help multiply the economy, get the economy moving again if the money’s in their hands. And this is a–this is why we have Democrats and Republicans in this country, because we do look at these things differently. They believe that all of this spending’s going to help. Some of it on infrastructure, if you can get it out the door quick enough, will help.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

John O: Uh, Dave, I realized that sounded good to you judging from your withering cross examination, but he simply repeated what I tried to counter just a minute ago, but used different words. So, if I could, I’d like to put it another way in hopes that I would be clearer: Me, the people, are not going to fill the potholes we’re currently slaloming past, nor are we going to buy Supertrains, a greener and smarter energy grid, we’re not going to bring broadband to rural areas, and we sure as heck aren’t going to buy another war. Some things, ONLY government can do. And most of us believe these are things we MUST do to retain our stature as a once-great nation and maybe get that greatness back. We’re ready to “sacrifice” some tax dollars for the good of us all.

REP. BOEHNER: But spending 44–or $200 million to fix up the National Mall, $21 million for sod, over $200 million for contraceptives, how does this going to fix an ailing economy?

John O: *ahem* Uh, Dave, I’m sorry to interrupt? Can we put this into some math people can contextualize? How about we point out that the $421 million our esteemed Minority leader just listed as a percentage of the $850 billion we’re talking about? It’s the only responsible way…*I find that someone yelling at me to STFU in an earpiece is strange*

MR. GREGORY: The administration will say, “Look, we have to take the opportunity here to invest in the kinds of things that will help the economy once there is a recovery.” I remember the previous president, George Bush, saying the same thing in the energy sector back when he came into office, and he was resisted. What’s wrong with making some long-term plans?

REP. BOEHNER: I can, I can agree with some of the long-term plans. And on the energy side I may not be in full agreement, but it’s generally moving in the right direction. But providing $300 billion of this package to states–$166 billion in direct aid to the states, another $140 billion in education funding–this is not going to do anything, anything to stimulate our economy, to help the–our ailing economy. And so at the end of the day, it has to be targeted. It’s about preserving jobs and creating new jobs.

Mr Gregory: John, a response? A shorter one this time?

John: Sure, sorry Dave. How’s this: Mr. Boehner just said $140 billion in education funding wasn’t in our long-term interest. It’s a guiding Republican principle. I don’t think he’s in the *distinctly but softly mocking*mainstream of public opinion on that one.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think the Bush tax cuts, which as I just talked about with Larry Summers will expire next year, do you think the administration will repeal them this year?

REP. BOEHNER: I’ve got my doubts whether they’ll be bold enough to do that. They may wait till next year. But raising taxes on anyone in an ailing economy is wrong. And the fact is, is that the upper income people they talk about, 75 percent of them are small business people who pay ordinary income tax rates. And to tax small business, the engine of job growth in America, is, is really just not a very good idea.

Mr Gregory: John, how CAN we justify tax increases on people with incomes like Mr. Boehner and myself?

John O: With all due respect to you and Minority Leader Boehner, Dave, most of us out there in Nobodyland think anyone in your position should be happy they’re not being hunted down for pie-throwing and other forms of humiliation. And Mr. Boehner cannot seem to avoid throwing around intellectually dishonest numbers. Whether we raise taxes on the top 1% of income earners is completely unrelated in any way to 75% of small business owners. We’re only going to tax the real RICH small businesses and people. I think I speak for most Americans when I say, “We don’t feel your pain.”

MR. GREGORY: You talk about bipartisanship. The president’s talked about that. You–there was a meeting with the leadership in the White House on Friday. This is how Politico reported one of the exchanges: “President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning–but he also left no doubt about who’s in charge of these negotiations. `I won,’ Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.” You don’t have a lot of leverage here as Republicans. Do you think its possible that the stimulus will pass the House without Republican support?

REP. BOEHNER: Well, Republicans believe that we have a difficult economy. We believe that we need an economic rescue plan that helps American families and small businesses, and one that will work. And right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work. And so if it’s plan that I see today, put me down in the no column.

John O: But those are the same policies that have failed us! Are you seriously trying to sell the idea that we just didn’t do enough of what your party thinks is right? Have at it!

MR. GREGORY: And Republicans, rank and file, will fall in line? *John O sneaks in, “Isn’t that what Republicans do? off camera*

REP. BOEHNER: I think a lot of Republicans will vote no, because they see this as a lot of wasteful Washington spending, padding the bureaucracy and doing nothing to help create jobs and preserve jobs.

MR. GREGORY: But what about your constituents? Look at this new Gallup poll that shows support for President Obama among Republicans–the overall number, 68 percent approval rating; 45 percent approval rating among Republicans as opposed to 28 percent who disapprove. President Bush never enjoyed those numbers among Democrats.

REP. BOEHNER: Listen, we, we’ve made it clear we want to work with the new president. He’s made clear he wants to work with us. That’s why we laid out our ideas at his invitation the other day. And we want to continue to work with him to help fix this economy. David, this isn’t about Democrat or Republican at this point. We have some serious problems in our economy. And believe me, all of us want the president to succeed. We want this plan to work. Now, there’s no real daylight between the president and Republicans on the Hill. There may be some disagreement over how much spending or how much in the way of tax relief. But at the end of the day, we want him to succeed because America needs him to succeed.

Mr Gregory: John O, the President has expressed a lot of willingness to cooperate with the other side of the aisle.

John O: Yes, he has, Dave. And that’s to his credit. But he also reminded them who won. And Rush Limbaugh, who speaks for a LOT of Republicans, Mr. Boehner, disagrees with you. Are you willing to say he’s not being patriotic when he wishes Obama’s policies fail? I didn’t think so.

MR. GREGORY: I should also note that I think the president did have–President Bush had high ratings among Democrats after 9/11, just to put that on the record.

Let’s talk about the banking crisis. You said this week–this is the bailout money to help banks in this country who are losing money in a very difficult situation. You said we need an exit strategy from the bailout plan known as the TARP. Why?

REP. BOEHNER: Well, at some point we need to understand how we’re going to, how we’re going to preserve taxpayer funds, how we’re going to begin to withdraw those funds at some point. Understand that I voted for this plan back in late September because I thought there was a credit crisis in America, we needed more capital in the system. But–and so I, I corralled votes and I took an awful lot of hits for it. But I’ve been rather critical over the last three or four months in terms of how it was spent; the lack of transparency, the lack of accountability. And now they want the second half of this money, no demonstrated need and no plan for what they’re going to do with it. And I just…

MR. GREGORY: You say no demonstrated need; the banks are woefully undercapitalized. Do you disagree with that? You think they don’t need money?

REP. BOEHNER: The banks have, the banks have problems. But the administration need to comes to us and say, “All right, here’s the problem, and here’s what we’re going to propose to do with this extra $350 billion.” And you know, in this whole debate, whether it’s the troubled asset relief program or this economic recovery package, somebody has to be looking out for the taxpayers. And I’m going to tell you what, Republicans are going to be there to look out for American taxpayers.

John O: Who was watching out for the American taxpayers for the last 8 years? Republicans? Could you share some numbers that would support that laughable assertion? Do you think anyone with a brain believes you? I didn’t think so. Carry on, Dave.

MR. GREGORY: Let me turn to the issue of the executive order that the president signed to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year. Is that realistic?

REP. BOEHNER: I don’t believe so. And I’ve got concerns about it. I understand the problem with Gitmo, and, and the black eye that it’s given us, but President Bush wanted to close down Gitmo, too. So did Senator John McCain. And the reason that Gitmo’s still there is they couldn’t determine, what do you do with these 270 prisoners? Some of them, you might be able to release, but we’ve already found 61 of those that we released back on the battlefield. You don’t want to bring them into the United States, where all the sudden they have rights of U.S. citizens. We have to remember, these are terrorists who, who have attempted to kill Americans. And, and unilaterally saying we’re going to close Gitmo in a year, without knowing how we’re going to deal with them, where we’re going to house them, how we’re going to try them, I think keeps a campaign promise but may be irresponsible.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think that the president is making America less safe in taking this step?

John O: *control flaking off* Dave, who did you service to get this job? You know that number has been debunked as far as anyone can be certain! You also know we don’t KNOW who and what we have in Gitmo!

Mr. Gregory: Well, I think we can all see why we don’t allow bloggers on the show. *Boehner chuckles*

REP. BOEHNER: We don’t know where the prisoners are going to go, and, and–nor how they’re going to be tried. You know, if, if the liberals in America believe that Gitmo ought to go, then maybe we ought to just open Alcatraz and move those prisoners there.

MR. GREGORY: Now it’s a national park and not really suitable for prisoners, however.

REP. BOEHNER: It’s very secure.

MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you, before you go, about the future of the Republican Party. What is the way back?

REP. BOEHNER: The way back is to be able to communicate with the American people about who we are and what our principles are. You know, the principles I grew up with are the principles of the Republican Party, even though I grew up as a Democrat. And I’ve got 11 brothers and sisters, my dad owned a bar. I’ve had every rotten job there was in America, but thankful that I had each of those jobs. And, and you know, most Americans think that if you work hard, you play by the rules, you got a really good chance of getting ahead. And, and I don’t want our party to be the party of no. I want our party to be the party of better ideas, better solutions. There are issues, a lot of issues that Americans are concerned about, and I think as a political party we have to be willing to put out–either work with the administration, work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle or, if we disagree, then what’s our better solution for the American people? And at the end of the day, I do think we have some better solutions. And over the coming months, I think the American people will see more of them.

MR. GREGORY: And in the meantime, are you rooting for President Obama?

REP. BOEHNER: I am, because we need him to succeed. America needs him to succeed. We, we are, we are facing the most difficult challenge that we’ve faced over the last 50 years. It’s important that, that America wins, and that means everybody in this town needs to work together to ensure that we help America win this fight that we’re in.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Boehner, good luck to you in your work as well.

REP. BOEHNER: Thank you.

MR. GREGORY: Thank you very much.

Mr Gregory: John, it was truly weird to have you on the show.

John O: It was weird to be here, David. Thank you.

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