Did you happen to catch yesterday's Capitol Hill press conference with the entirety of the House Republican leadership? House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, and House Republican Conference Cathy McMorris Rodgers wanted to talk about this week's sequestration cuts, but in the process, they offered a case study in how to insult Americans' intelligence.
It's awfully tempting to go line by line, pointing out every error of fact and judgment, but that would lead to a post so long, no one would read it. Instead, consider some of the more striking whoppers uttered over the course of the six-minute press conference.
Each of the Republican lawmakers said President Obama was responsible for the sequester, which is ridiculous. Each of them said it's up to Democrats to think of a way to make Republicans happy enough so that Republicans won't hurt the country on purpose. Each of them said the House already voted to replace the sequester, hoping no one would notice that in the current Congress, GOP leaders haven't even proposed, better yet voted on, a replacement.
But consider this gem from the House Speaker:
"Listen, the president says we have to have another tax increase in order to avoid the sequester. Well, Mr. President, you got your tax increase. It's time to cut spending here in Washington."
I assume Boehner is smart enough to know how little sense this makes, which makes his comments an example of willful dishonesty. It's true that policymakers accepted new revenue in 2012, but policymakers also cut spending by more than $1.2 trillion in 2011. Looking again at Boehner's quote, it's very easy to turn it around on him: "Well, Mr. Speaker, you got your spending cuts."
But that wasn't my favorite moment.
How about this gem from Cantor?
"So the president really ought to stop campaigning and come back to the table and work with us."
Work with whom, exactly? Republicans, including Cantor, have already said the only remedy they are willing to consider is one in which Republicans get 100% of what they want. As far as GOP leaders are concerned, there is literally no compromise they will even entertain. "Come back to the table"? Since when have Republicans been at the table? Does Cantor think every voter and every reporter watching this fiasco unfold is an idiot?
But my personal favorite was this quote from McCarthy:
"[T]he president's only idea to solve a problem is to take more from the hardworking taxpayers."
Yep, Kevin McCarthy is just lying -- blatantly and without shame. He knows the president's proposed compromise requires concessions from both sides, and he knows that under the White House plan, Democrats would accept hundreds of billions of dollars in spending cuts they'd just as soon oppose.
But there McCarthy was anyway, saying the exact opposite, hoping the public and the media wouldn't know the difference.
There's room for an easy solution to this latest Republican-created crisis, but there can be no remedy so long as one side of the political divide is so heavily invested in living in an alternate universe.