Three years ago today, Lehman Brothers, one of the largest investment banks in the world, filed for bankruptcy, setting off a financial system collapse that nearly destroyed the global economy. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ironically choose this anniversary to deliver his rebuttal speech to President Obama’s recently released jobs plan. Unsurprisingly, Boehner touted those old Republican chestnuts — lower taxes and less regulation — as the keys to “liberating America’s economy.”
Then, trying to channel some economic populism, Boehner had the audacity to rebuke “too big to fail” banks, despite voting to bail out those very banks and fighting tooth-and-nail against Wall Street reform:
BOEHNER: [Small businesses have] been hampered by government that offers confusion to entrepreneurs and job creators when there needs to be clarity. They’ve been undercut by government that favors crony capitalism and businesses that are deemed “too big to fail” over the small banks and small businesses that are at the heart of our economy.
Boehner, along with the rest of the Republican caucus, has a long and established track record of protecting the interests of the big banks at the expense of almost everyone else.
In fact, this time three years ago Boehner cried (admittedly not a rare occurrence) in a speech on the House floor and literally pleaded with his fellow Republicans to pass the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP), better known as the “bank bailout.” TARP was signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 and, for all its warts, prevented the complete implosion of the financial system. Nowadays Repbulicans are fond of bashing the “big bank bailout.”
As ThinkProgress reported today, House Republicans — led by Boehner — have been fighting for two years now to block implementation of the landmark financial reform legislation, the Dodd-Frank Act. In other words, Boehner has been fighting to destroy the very measures designed to prevent another financial crisis.
Boehner has also consistently sided with the big banks and major corporations over small banks and businesses. He voted against a $12 billion tax break for small businesses on the same day he unveiled Republicans’ “Pledge to America” that referenced small businesses 18 times. The House GOP voted against at least 8 different Democrat-approved measures to help small businesses.
And a rebuke of “crony capitalism” is especially hypocritical coming from the guy who once handed out checks from the tobacco industry on the House floor to fellow Congressmen when they were considering a bill to end a tobacco subsidy. For years, Boehner also cultivated close ties with industry lobbyists.