John Boehner’s demands on raising the debt limit, an action he has already pledged to take both publicly and privately on numerous occasions, are clearly ridiculous. They also have nothing to do with reducing debt, because the rigid stance against tax increases means that under his plan the budget would add $5 trillion to the debt over the next decade. The goal is to cut spending enough to pay for lower taxes for the rich, and that’s pretty much it.

So it’s perhaps not worth pointing out that Boehner’s economic claims are ahistorical and fallacious. But Bloomberg does it anyway.

Boehner’s statement in his Wall Street speech that government spending “is crowding out private investment and threatening the availability of capital” runs counter to the behavior of credit markets.

“Look at interest rates. Look at capital spending,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of IHS Inc., a research firm based in Englewood, Colorado. “It’s very hard to come to a conclusion that there’s any kind of crowding out.”

The cost of borrowing is low by historical standards. Yields on 10-year Treasury notes were 3.21 percent and yields on 2-year Treasury notes were 0.59 percent at 5 p.m. in New York yesterday, according to Bloomberg Data. Average spreads on investment-grade corporate bonds have narrowed from 1.64 a year ago to 1.39 on May 9, according to Barclays Capital […]

Boehner, 61, an Ohio Republican, also said the 2009 stimulus program “hampered job creation in our country,” a view at odds with the Congressional Budget Office’s findings last August. The stimulus package increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million and cut unemployment by between 0.7 percentage point and 1.8 percentage point, according to CBO […]

The speaker also repeated an assertion made by House Republicans that their plan to privatize Medicare will give future recipients “the same kinds of options that members of Congress currently have.”

The CBO projected in an April 5 report that under the Republican plan, by 2030 the government would pay 32 percent of the health-care costs of a typical 65-year-old. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s benefit handbook says the government pays as much as 75 percent of the health-care costs of federal workers, including members of Congress.

There’s more at the link. The speech was just a sea of right-wing lies about the economy over three decades, employed to back up an ideological agenda of tax cuts and limiting government. That’s all there is to it. Boehner’s lack of interest in reality serves his appearance to stay on the far right edge of his party and keep his job as Speaker.

This fiction, and the agenda of deep cuts to the social safety net it would serve, has roused the attention of, wonder of wonders, Catholic economists and academics (h/t):

Mr. Speaker, your voting record is at variance from one of the Church’s most ancient moral teachings. From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it.

The 2012 budget you shepherded to passage in the House of Representatives guts long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society. It is particularly cruel to pregnant women and children, gutting Maternal and Child Health grants and slashing $500 million from the highly successful Women Infants and Children nutrition program. When they graduate from WIC at age 5, these children will face a 20% cut in food stamps. The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare. It invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. In a letter speaking on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Stephen Blaire and Bishop Howard Hubbard detailed the anti-life implications of this budget in regard to its impact on poor and vulnerable American citizens. They explained the Church’s teachings in this regard clearly, insisting that:

A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.

Emphasis mine on the “anti-life” statement. Catholics still have importance in US politics, particularly in the Midwest and in the Hispanic community, which has more on their minds than just immigration. I don’t think that official opprobrium and some Catholic academics sniping will cause Boehner to break. Public opinion is so hermetically sealed among ideological corners that few who need to hear about this actually will. But Boehner wasn’t on the right side of the public before his Manhattan speech, and he didn’t do anything to change that.

David Dayen

David Dayen

21 Comments