Economy

Fact-Checking Boehner’s ‘Major Economic Address’

Today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is delivering what’s being billed as a “major economic address” at the City Club of Cleveland. In the speech, Boehner calls on President Obama to fire both Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and National Economic Council Chairman Larry Summers, and lays out his vision of the Republican economic agenda.

I have had enough – and the American people have had enough – of Washington politicians talking about wanting to create jobs as a ploy to get themselves re-elected while doing everything possible to prevent jobs from being created,” Boehner said. But as the Washington Post noted, the speech “does not expand the GOP’s existing economic proposals in any significant way.”

Instead, Boehner relies on tired, false arguments to push the standard GOP agenda of tax cuts for the rich and corporations and fewer regulations that protect workers and consumers. Here’s a rundown of Boehner’s attempt to bamboozle people with his economic double-talk. Read the entire speech transcript here.

BOEHNER: “When I met with the president last month at The White House, I conveyed my belief – shared by many economists – that this ongoing uncertainty is hurting small businesses and preventing the creation of private sector jobs.”

FACT: As Stan Collender notes, this point about “uncertainty” is “nothing but spin.” According to the latest National Federation of Independent Business small business survey, nearly half of small business cite economic conditions and lack of sales prospects as their reasons for not hiring: just 12 percent cite “political conditions.”

BOEHNER: “Not long after we spoke, he signed a 26 billion dollar ‘stimulus’ spending bill that funnels money to state governments in order to protect government jobs. Even worse, the bill is funded by a new tax hike that makes it more expensive to create jobs in the United States and less expensive to create jobs overseas.”

FACT: Does Boehner still think that the employees — including 4,900 teachers in his state — that are still working because of this bill are “special interests”? Also, the “new tax hike” that Boehner references is actually a provision that prevents multinational corporations from claiming domestic tax credits on profits they earned overseas, and thus reduces the incentive to outsource jobs. That bill also reduced the deficit.

BOEHNER: “According to an analysis by the non-partisan Joint Tax Committee, Congress’s official tax scorekeeper, half of small business income in America – half – would face higher taxes under the president’s plan.”

FACT: Obama’s plan to allow rates on the top two income tax brackets to reset to where they were under President Clinton would capture half of all net business income claimed on personal tax returns, not small business income. Just three percent of people with any business income at all — from a business large or small — will be affected if these tax rates increase.

More after the jump.

BOEHNER: “Of course, as if on cue, the same Washington politicians who have spent the last 18 months borrowing and spending our economy into the ground are now fretting over whether we can afford the ‘cost’ of stopping job-killing tax hikes. Only in Washington would it be acceptable to think that taxpayers should have to pay for the privilege of keeping more of their own hard-earned money.”

FACT: Does Boehner, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), think tax cuts are free? Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire on schedule for just the richest two percent of Americans will save $830 billion over ten years.

BOEHNER: “We will not solve our fiscal challenges until we cut spending and have real economic growth – and we won’t have real economic growth if we keep raising taxes on small businesses.”

FACT: Fewer than two percent of small business in the country would be affected by Obama’s plan to let the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire.

BOEHNER: “Also pending is ‘card check.’ This bill is the top priority for the public-sector unions that provide the money and foot soldiers for Democratic campaigns. It eliminates a worker’s right to a secret ballot in union elections, making it easier for unions to organize while putting employers at a firm disadvantage. Card check is essentially a ‘how-to’ guide for destroying small business jobs.”

FACT: For one thing, “card check” — or majority sign-up — already exists and has been used by more than half a million workers to unionize since 2003 (but only because their employers allowed it). Retail employers with sales under $500,000 annually and non-retail employers with sales under $50,000 annually would also be exempt from the bill Boehner is fearmongering about.

BOEHNER: “When Congress returns, we should force Washington to cut non-defense discretionary spending to 2008 levels – before the ‘stimulus’ was put into place. This would show Washington is ready to get serious about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy.”

FACT: Derek Thompson notes that when Obama proposed freezing non-defense discretionary spending in 2010 for three years, “which would have brought it in line with 2008 levels,” Boehner’s spokesman replied: “Given Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, this is like announcing you’re going on a diet after winning a pie-eating contest.”

BOEHNER: “All this ‘stimulus’ spending has gotten us nowhere, but it comes from somewhere.”

FACT: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus will save or create up to 3.7 million jobs by the end of September. The Columbus Dispatch noted that 9,500 Ohio construction workers had work in July because of the stimulus; some of this work was in Boehner’s own district.

BOEHNER: “This year’s ‘extenders’ bill had 71 separate tax provisions in it, totaling 31.6 billion dollars. More provisions get added in each year, but few if any ever fall out of the package. […] Are they worth it? Many are. But we just go ahead and extend all of them temporarily – and usually right at the last minute…We need to take a long and hard look at the undergrowth of deductions, credits, and special carveouts that our tax code has become.”

FACT: Boehner actually makes a good point here! Tax expenditures — spending programs disguised as tax cuts — have grown 230 percent since 1977, and many of them are wasteful (like the billions spent to subsidize oil companies each year).

BOEHNER: “We’ve seen not just more government jobs, but better-paying ones too. Federal employees now make on average more than double what private sector workers take in.”

FACT: Once you adjust for educational attainment and compare across similar occupations, federal employees make far less than their private sector counterparts.

BOEHNER: “Republicans on the House Budget Committee, led by Congressman Paul Ryan, have already identified $1.3 trillion in specific spending cuts that could be implemented immediately. These are common-sense steps – like canceling unspent ‘stimulus’ and TARP bailout funds.”

FACT: Canceling unspent stimulus funds would mean increasing taxes on the middle class, as $55 billion in funding has already been allocated for middle-class tax breaks.

BOEHNER: “In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell entered office facing an unprecedented $4.2 billion deficit. His predecessor, the chairman of the Democratic party, proposed closing the shortfall by imposing the largest tax increase in the state’s history. Governor McDonnell refused to balance his state’s budget by making it harder for Virginia families and business owners to balance their own.

FACT: According to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, the stimulus provided $2.5 billion to McDonnell’s Virginia to “help close the state’s budget shortfall in 2010-2012.”

It’s worth remembering that the House Republican plan for job creation is a $10 trillion giveaway to the rich and corporations that would be completely ineffective in terms of spurring job creation.