John Boehner shook things up today when he told reporters at a press conference that the fiscal talks are in trouble. He said (emphasis mine):
“Based on where we stand today, I would say two things. First, despite the claims that the president supports a balanced approach, the Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts. And secondly, no substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.”
I continue to find this a curious interpretation of recent events. It’s unclear whether Boehner is saying Dems are not serious about spending cuts in the context of the current fiscal talks or that they have never gotten serious about them. But either way, it continues to get lost in the discussion that Democrats did agree to two rounds of major spending cuts during Obama’s first term — totaling well over $1 trillion — and got no tax hikes in return for them.
What’s more, guess who hailed those spending cuts Democrats agreed to as significant at the time? John Boehner did.
After striking the deals in 2011 that averted the government shutdown and raised the debt ceiling, Boehner needed to persuade House conservatives that he had wrested significant concessions from Democrats.
Boehner described the nearly $40 billion in spending cuts in the government shutdown deal as “largest real dollar spending cut in American history.” He was a bit less effusive about the $1 trillion in cuts Dems agreed to as part of the debt ceiling deal, but he did say the spending cuts won from Democrats “shows how much we’ve changed the terms of the debate in this town.” He added that there was nothing in the deal that ”violates our principles,” meaning Democrats were the ones who made all the concessions. He gloated: “It’s all spending cuts.”
And Boehner was absolutely right. He got very good deals out of Democrats. In both cases, Democrats did make far greater concessions than Republicans did. It seems like this basic history deserves a place in today’s discussion.
UPDATE: It gets even better. Just after the 2011 debt ceiling deal was reached, Boehner said:
“When you look at this final agreement that we came to with the White House, I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.”