Boehner’s SOTU Fact-Checking Blames Obama for Income Inequality

John Boehner's undisguised loathing was on full display last night
John Boehner’s undisguised loathing was on full display last night

Speaker of the House John Boehner dismissively called last night’s SOTU “political theater.” He also promised to fact-check President Obama, and he delivered: SOTU FACT: President’s Policies Have Failed the Middle Class.

In fact, Boehner’s so-called “fact-checking” is as a tendentious and mendacious collection of lies and misrepresentations as anything put forward by the GOP since 2008. The sheer gall of John Boehner suddenly pretending to be a champion in the struggle against income inequality is, for want of a better word, staggering.

Check it out:

CLAIM: “Today, thanks to a growing economy, the recovery is touching more and more lives. Wages are finally starting to rise again.” (President Obama, State of the Union Address, January 20, 2015)

SOTU FACT: All the growth the president is taking credit for tonight has done nothing to boost middle-class families. Income equality has gotten worse on his watch.

Yes. You just saw Boehner blame Obama for the rich getting richer at our expense.

FACT: President Obama has been attacking rising income inequality for his entire presidency.

FACT: Income inequality would almost certainly be worse today if we had a Republican president, according to an “exclusive analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, conducted at the request of The Washington Post” in July 2014, “that compared today’s income distribution with what it would look like if President George W. Bush’s tax policies were still in place.”

When Obama attacked income inequality before the 2010 midterms, Politico reported, the 1 percent “freaked out” and “appear[ed] to be having a collective meltdown.”

This obvious point aside, let’s look at three big problems with Boehner’s “fact-checking”:

  • Boehner’s “SOTU fact” doesn’t address what Obama said. It is a straw-man argument. Obama did not say income inequality is not a problem. In fact, he spent much of his SOTU addressing income inequality;
  • Second, what Obama did say IS true: wages are rising again. As Reuters put it last night, “it is true that earnings are rising.” And yes, Reuters qualifies that statement by adding “multiple government surveys suggest income growth remains much slower than before the 2007-09 recession,” but the point needs to be made that the GOP caused the recession and Obama has spent much of his presidency turning the economy around. Any growth at all is near-miraculous, considering where we were when he took office. But even if wages were not rising, Boehner did not fact-check this point;
  • Income Inequality is a serious problem precisely because of John Boehner’s own party, which favors tax breaks for the rich and corporations and tax hikes for the Middle Class. President Obama wants to lift people into the Middle Class. Boehner refuses to create Middle Class jobs. It was just the Sunday that Paul Ryan again called for tax hikes for the Middle Class.
    And on Monday, Democrats unveiled a plan to give the Middle Class a $2,000 tax cut. None other than John Boehner, who last night accused President Obama of failing to help the Middle Class, shot it down, saying it’s “the last thing we need.”

Boehner’s SOTU fact actually indicts his own party. If we fact-check Boehner’s fact-checking, we find that Republicans have repeatedly accused President Obama of “class warfare” when he has tried to help the Middle Class, including as recently as the occasion of Obama’s proposal on Saturday for tax cuts for the Middle Class and tax hikes for the rich.

In July 2013, Fox News’ senior network political analyst Brit Hume, attacked President Obama for having an irrational fixation on income inequality. Forging ahead, in December of that year, President Obama doubled down by declaring that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.”

Yet after six years of attacking Obama’s every attempt to help the Middle Class, here we have John Boehner attacking President Obama for not being fixated enough on income inequality. Really?

Here are a couple of facts for you:

FACT: Healthcare reform, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is itself an attack on income inequality. The Republican response has seen John Boehner himself oversee literally dozens of attempts to repeal Obamacare.

FACT: The number of attempted repeals of Obamacare are greater than the number of permanent jobs that will be created by the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Boehner’s official response to last night’s SOTU was to claim,

The State of the Union is a chance to start anew, but all the president offered tonight is more taxes, more government, and more of the same approach that has failed middle-class families. These aren’t just the wrong policies, they’re the wrong priorities: growing Washington’s bureaucracy instead of America’s economy.

More taxes. Like Paul Ryan’s plan to hike taxes on the Middle Class?

So what we have here is a House which has for six years stymied every attempt by President Obama and the Democrats to help the Middle Class. Apparently, raising Middle Class taxes somehow helps the Middle Class and Obama’s plan to cut Middle Class taxes hurts the Middle Class, and Obama’s plan to tax the rich – bizarrely – hurts the Middle Class and Republican plans to cut taxes for the rich – again, bizarrely – helps the Middle Class.

If this kind of math makes sense to you, then perhaps trickle-down economics makes sense to you as well. The rest of us aren’t into water sports, thank you very much.

The Speaker of the House did not address Obama’s point about wages increasing for the simple reason that wages are starting to rise again, and President Obama has been a champion of increasing the minimum wage while Boehner has been staunchly against any such move, to the extent that he has said he would rather kill himself that vote for a minimum wage hike.

Let’s face it: Invoking suicide in opposition to raising wages makes it kind of hard to criticize Obama’s statement directly.

Because Boehner could not dispute that fact then, he chose instead to pose as a champion of the Middle Class and blamed the president for the very income inequality his own party – and he himself – has repeatedly championed.

The sad fact of Republican fact-checking is that their fact-checking needs to be fact-checked, and this was never more true last night. Boehner’s alleged fact-checking is appallingly dishonest, misleading, and grotesquely hypocritical. And those are the facts.

20 Replies to “Boehner’s SOTU Fact-Checking Blames Obama for Income Inequality”

  1. NPR repeated the same bs this morning when talking to Democratic congresswoman.

    The NPR guy actually blamed the president for the racial issues that arose “on his watch.”

    I almost drove into the ditch.

  2. Boehner fails to recognize that income disparity started under the man god Reagan. All the steps taken were set up under him. Wages were rising until the traitor came to office and leached the middle class in favor of the rich

  3. let me get this straight. the minimum wage bill the president said he would sign gets blocked in Boehner’s house, and Obama’s responsible for income inequality?

    I think Boehner has it backwards. in any Boehner speech, substitute the word GOP for Obama and you get the truth.

  4. Boehner has the audacity to say this while also saying he will not support raising capital gains taxes on the wealthy to give tax cuts to the middle class. He’s talking out both sides of his mouth. The sad part is that in the Republicans realityless bubble world, their constituants will believe every word of it, because it will be repeated on Fox “News”.

  5. What has the GOP done FOR the middle class??

    The republicans have introduced the following bills:
    46 bills on abortion
    113 bills on religion
    73 bills on family relations
    36 bills on marriage
    72 bills on guns
    604 bills on taxation
    467 bills on government investigations

  6. For 4 years of democratic control in the house and senate 07-10, and 2 years of total control 09-10 the democratic party had plenty of time to step up and save the middle class with no opposition……….where were they then? This president has been saying for 8 years now we need to change things, yet here we are. Nothing to show for his tenure. There is a reason the GOP took control, people are tired of hearing the great plan, yet nothing coming out of it.

  7. To Speaker Boehner, Your response to the SOTU fact check should read – STFU with your misinformation “FACTS”, your nose is growing. There fixed that for you sir.

  8. No, Tim. There were only two time periods during the 111th Congress when the Democrats had a 60 seat majority:

    From July 7. 2009 (when Al Franken was officially seated as the Senator from Minnesota after the last of Norm Coleman’s challenges came to an end) to August 25, 2009 (when Ted Kennedy died, although Kennedy’s illness had kept him from voting for several weeks before that date at least); and == about 30 days

    From September 25, 2009 (when Paul Kirk was appointed to replace Kennedy) to February 4, 2010 (when Scott Brown took office after defeating Martha Coakley); about 125 days

    For one day in September 2009, Republicans lacked 40 votes due to the resignation of Mel Martinez, who was replaced the next day by George LeMieux

    So, the Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority for about 156 days over the two years. This is hardly complete control for two years.

  9. A voting majority in the Senate is 51 not 60 votes. 60 votes are not required, unless you fear your bill is so bad that it would cause a filibuster.

  10. though well intentioned your comment is a little incorrect according to my fact checkers, JC……it seems that speaker BOehNER had NOT been sucking lemons but he had been kissing koch…..[WINK]

  11. Last week the Target Corporation announced it would be closing all 133 stores in Canada, laying off 17,600 employees in the process. Many thought the expansion was too much, too fast:
    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27328302/litany-problems-pushes-target-into-giving-up-canada

    As a result of the failed Canadian experiment and a massive data breach, then CEO Gregg Steinhafel was fired.

    Target’s “employee trust” package for its Canadian workers, announced last week, amounts to $70 million ($56 million US). It’s designed to provide each worker with 16 weeks of pay.
    Depending on who’s doing the calculation, the golden handshake handed to ex-CEO Gregg Steinhafel last May is in roughly in the same ballpark.

    Fortune Magazine put the value of his total “walk-away” package, including stock options and other benefits, at $61 million US, including severance of $15.9 million.

    But theres no class warfare

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