The White House has already caused John Boehner’s political stunt of a lawsuit against President Obama to backfire by pointing out that taxpayers will be paying for this latest Republican temper tantrum.
Here is what Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during his briefing yesterday:
Q And on Boehner, if I could ask one more on the Boehner law suit — is the President re-thinking his kind of in-your-face I’ve got a pen and a phone and I’m going to use it? (Laughter.)
MR. EARNEST: No.
Q Well, let me follow up on that — because any lawsuit, obviously, could lead to a very protracted court battle with wide-ranging implications. And is that something —
MR. EARNEST: And a significant expense to taxpayers, I assume. I’m not an attorney, but I don’t think they come cheap.
Q Well, is that something that the White House is gearing up for, or do you think that John Boehner is bluffing?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I am not sure what the strategy is behind the House Republican announcement today. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that, again, an announcement that House Republicans are preparing a taxpayer-funded lawsuit against the President for doing his job is going to be very warmly received by the American public.
I think what they would like to see is they would like to see their elected leaders in Washington, D.C., focused on the kinds of issues that are having an impact on their communities. That’s why you see the President — just to cite one example — host a Working Families Summit here in Washington earlier this week to talk about many of the issues that working families all across the country are talking about: having access to paid leave; having access to the kinds of flexible workplace policies that will allow families to better balance work obligations and family obligations; raising the minimum wage so that the head of a household who is trying to raise — working full-time and trying to raise a family of four doesn’t have to do it below the poverty line.
So there are a range of issues where there should be an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together. It’s unfortunate that Republicans have opted for what might be described as a more litigious strategy.
Q Well, without ascribing motives to the Speaker or to the Republicans, is it something that the White House is taking seriously enough to gear up for?
MR. EARNEST: Well, I guess I’ll say this. In terms of the kinds of executive actions that Speaker Boehner objects to and the House Republicans object to, they haven’t been very specific about that. It’s unclear if what they object to are actions that are taken to protect the public health of Americans all across the country by making sure that our air and water is clean. It’s not clear to me if they object to protections that ensures that individuals aren’t discriminated against based on who they love. It’s unclear to me if they object specifically to the President using his executive authority to make sure that every worker in America has access to some kind of retirement program. The President, using his pen, announced the MyRA proposal in the State of the Union address. It’s something that is going to make it easier for workers to save for retirement.
So we feel completely confident that the President was operating within his authority as the President of the United States to take these steps on behalf of the American people. But I’ll be interested to hear what kind of objection Republicans have to those specific steps.
The White House should feel confident. They only have centuries of legal precedent on their side, while Boehner won’t list the specific executive actions that he is suing the president over. This lawsuit is Boehner and the House Republicans wasting more taxpayer money in an attempt to misuse the judicial system to manufacture an Obama scandal.
Speaker Boehner is giving in to those on the right who have been clamoring for years for Obama impeachment. If the court ruled that Obama overstepped his constitutional authority, Boehner would have a built in case for impeachment without having to dream up impeachable offenses.
The memo that Boehner released about the lawsuit yesterday was a piece of fluffy propaganda that read more like a Republican get out the vote effort than a legal justification. This is what passed for a legal rationale in the memo, “On one matter after another during his presidency, President Obama has circumvented the Congress through executive action, creating his own laws and excusing himself from executing statutes he is sworn to enforce – at times even boasting about his willingness to do it as if daring the America people to stop him.”
In other words, Boehner and the House GOP don’t like the fact that Obama won’t let them obstruct his entire agenda, so they are going to sue. What is most ironic about this course of action is that Republicans have spent the few decades campaigning against “frivolous lawsuits.” It’s difficult to find a more frivolous lawsuit than one that can’t even explain specifically why the plaintiffs are suing.
Instead of firing up the Republican base, Boehner’s lawsuit should inspire Democrats to vote in November. House Republicans prefer to waste taxpayer money suing Obama over doing their jobs.
Boehner has once again shown that he is playing checkers while the White House is playing chess.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association