Boehner On What Spending Cuts The House GOP Plans To Enact: ‘You’re Asking Me?’

During their sure-footed campaign to achieve a Republican majority this year, Republicans continually floundered over their promise to cut government spending. A remarkable number weren’t able to list even one cut they’d make from the federal budget.

But now the House Republicans have Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) at the helm, a politician who promises “to take a new approach that hasn’t been tried in Washington before.” Boehner claims “it’s not rocket science” to cut government spending. And yet, like his party brethren, Boehner’s “new approach” falls flat on specifics. When pushed to name one program he’d cut earlier this month, he was equally ignorant: “I don’t think I have one off the top of my head.”

The Speaker’s continued lack of substance is leaving his flock without direction as they struggle to construct a resolution on their campaign pledge to “roll back domestic spending to the 2008 appropriations levels” for next Tuesday. Set to hit the floor hours before the State of the Union, Republican lawmakers still couldn’t name specifics during their committee meeting on the resolution. But rather than offer any reassuring message of leadership, Boehner opted for an incredulous ignorance of the entire process: “You’re asking me?”:

Neither House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), nor House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) even attended a House Rules Committee hearing on the resolution Wednesday. Democrats pounced in what became a freewheeling, sometimes comical proceeding. And while Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is very much driving the train, he has kept himself divorced from the details of what represents an average 18 percent cut from 2010 spending levels.

“You’re asking me?” Boehner laughed, when asked by POLITICO how he thought the cuts would be first implemented in a stopgap spending bill next month. “I know how to delegate.”

By “delegating” out his job, Boehner can now hide behind the flanks of his subordinates without really reaping the backlash. With their leader in the rear, GOP lawmakers are out in front with a $2.5 trillion hatchet job on the federal budget. Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (OH) unveiled the “Spending Reduction Act” today, a bill that “proposes the elimination or drastic reduction of more than 50 government programs,” including the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and 15 percent of federal jobs. Perhaps to overcompensate for the other broken promises, Jordan is pushing the GOP pledge to cut back to 2008 levels even further back to 2006 spending levels.

While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) merely “applauds” the “effort,” Boehner, of course, is “seeking to minimize exposure to attacks from the opposition,” and thus is “unlikely” to push these cuts hard. Whether he’ll ever offer any clear plan of his own, however,