Boehner: No Deal Yet

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 31 2011 11:01 AM

Boehner: No Deal Yet

At his weekly presser, Speaker of the House John Boehner was sarcastic and blunt: There was no "compromise" on a long-term continuing resolution, no matter what Joe Biden might say about Democrats being willing to cut $73 billion from the president's budget.

"There is no agreement on a set of numbers," said Boehner. "Nothing will be agreed to until everything is agreed to."

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Boehner quickly dispatched questions about what Republicans were willing to give up in order to fund the government. The House passed HR 1; the Senate hasn't passed anything. He saluted Tea Party activists who'd be protesting outside the Capitol today, demanding no compromise. Subtly, he sided with them against Democrats who were caught this week agreeing to use the word "extreme" to describe all cuts. (The gaffe-ishness of that is debatable, because the Democrats' tone wasn't exactly a secret.) Democrats, he said, were delivering "rhetoric that accuses the American people of being extreme."

About that "American people" thing, though. Boehner repeated one phrase twice: "We control one-half of one-third of the government here." The second time he said it, he added that "we can't impose our will on another body." The Republican members of the House, in this formulation, are the people who represent the American mainstream -- and they've got the entire government aligned against them. So how can Democrats pretend that it's the Republicans holding up the process?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.