John Boehner: If jobs are lost “so be it.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Repubican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, made the following retort to job losses from recently proposed federal budget cuts: “so be it.” Here’s the Los Angeles Times:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) dismissed concerns that the spending cuts would eliminate programs that help employ thousands of Americans, saying that if jobs are lost, “so be it.”

“So be it” means amen, doesn’t it? And here’s this on the healthcare overhaul law (from the same Los Angeles Times article):

A full-scale attack on the healthcare overhaul law advanced as Republicans approved several measures that had the effect of preventing the law from taking effect. Republicans have pledged to dismantle the healthcare law, a key demand of the “tea party” movement. In a series of votes Friday, Republicans approved measures to block funding, including one that would bar salaries for government workers implementing the law. . . . The healthcare votes came as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in an updated assessment that repealing the healthcare law would actually drive up federal deficits by $210 billion by 2021 and leave 22 million more Americans without health insurance.

Now let’s see. The Republicans are looking to cut $60 billion over the next seven months from the Federal budget, but the effect will be a deceleration of consumption spending by those federal employees laid off from work, an increase in the deficit by $210 billion over the next several years, and 22 million Americans left without health insurance.

So be that?

It looks like we’re heading this year for an epic train wreck between the Milton Friedman right and John Maynard Keynes liberals. I genuinely don’t know which group is correct in their economic theory. Over the years, both Friedmanite and Keynesian arguments have, at different times, sounded plausible to me. Perhaps one secret to the general success of the United States is that neither Milton Friedman nor John Maynard Keynes has prevailed completely in economic decision-making. The two views check and balance one another. Maybe the ongoing muddle, political fighting, and compromise over these contending directions for the economy is best; what we should say so be it to.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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10 Responses to John Boehner: If jobs are lost “so be it.”

  1. TomH says:

    Why should we believe the CBO estimates for Obamacare? They’ve been so accurate in projecting the cost of Medicare, HUD, and other entitlements. Not.

    And this headline doesn’t bear the CBO caution: “The projections of the bill’s
    budgetary impact are quite uncertain, both because CBO has not completed
    a detailed estimate of the effects of H.R. 2 and because assessing the effects
    of making broad changes in the nation’s health care and health insurance
    systems—or of reversing scheduled changes—requires assumptions about a
    broad array of technical, behavioral, and economic factors.”

    Japan has been trying Keynesian solutions for more than ten years. Their economy is still in the tank. Our current structural problems won’t be solved by monetary solutions either, so Friedmanism won’t help. We’re in a new game and need new ideas. Past recessions have been due to the Fed raising interest rates in order to trim inflation, which is a cyclical problem. However, we are now in a situation where a lot of baby boomers are unemployed, so they aren’t spending nearly like they used to. Otoh, a lot of them who are working will be retiring over the next ten years, so this will tend to help open existing jobs. Otoh, they will add a big load to the health care system as they age, as well as to Social Security and Medicare. Furthermore, emerging nations are graduating many technical workers, which will lower wages for technical people for the next ten years until wages equilibrate. We also are discovering that emerging economies are very competitive with ours, so this pressures us to cut margins and streamline labor, resulting in fewer jobs. These structural factors are what is creating stress for our economy. Add in the fact that our deficits have mushroomed and we have a recipe for economic disaster that will make the 2008 recession look like the good times. Unless we drastically reduce the deficits, our cost of borrowing will increase dramatically, resulting in much worse deficits and likely really painful austerity–far worse than what the conservative repubs are proposing to cut spending back to 2008 levels. It’s time for congressional leaders to act like adults.

    • santitafarella says:


      I don’t disagree with your analysis. Big states like California shouldn’t be running deficits and Medicare’s trajectory is unsustainable. And, realistically, you’ve got to put defense and entitlements into the mix for cutting or you won’t really get anywhere. On the plus side is the fact that the US economy is projected to grow 3% this year, and that means that the economy will be about 500 billion dollars larger a year from now. At least some of the problem here is solved with growth. Can the economy outgrow the size of government (and the debts it accumulates)?


  2. andrewclunn says:

    I have to disagree. Our current predicament (which all agree is unsustainable) has been a sort of back and forth compromise. Time to put our eggs in one basket, if only because stalling or refusing to choose will certainly bring about a negative result. There are times for fence sitting and reflections and time for action. Make your choice, you cannot learn what the correct path is if you refuse to take either, and the hounds of recession and debt are hot on your trail.

    • santitafarella says:

      My problem with your position, Andrew, is that I’m deeply skeptical of the one party or one ruler state. I think it would be absolutely disasterous for any party—left or right—to get hold of power in so absolute a fashion that it could work its will unhindered. It is a demogogic fantasy—to achieve one party control over a state and vanquish the opposition completely. Democracy is the art of compromise.


      • andrewclunn says:

        Where did I say that I wanted single party rule? Both political parties represent much more than simply their economic policy, and that is what I am advocating a choice in regards to, not accepting an entire party line along with it.

    • TomH says:

      I think that we will need a combination of tax increases on everyone (not merely the rich), long term tax breaks for capital expenditures in the U.S. to stimulate employment, and a mighty healthy dose of across the board spending cuts. Defense and entitlements both need to be cut.

      There are plenty of dems that are responsible and will support this. I don’t include wackos like Pelosi or opportunists like Reid among them. If the dems at the top cling to their massive spending and tax-the-rich puerile fantasy, the American people may turn farther to the right than in 2010. Obama’s negatives are way up since his budget proposal (-17 at Rasmussen). He may yet be a one-term president. People are obviously paying attention to what he is doing, not merely to what he said in his State of the Disunion speech.

      • santitafarella says:


        Much as I love President Obama, I think that if he kicks the can down the road with regard to getting the budget under control, he probably will be toast.

        But it’s not obvious to me that Republicans are sincere in their desire to reduce the deficit. They say they are, but it’s tax cuts, not genuine deficit cuts, that most Republicans salivate to. And you won’t get to a reduced deficit if Republicans keep playing the tax cut card and pretend that deficits can really come down just by cutting domestic spending on things like NPR. Recall that it was a tax increase under Clinton that brought the budget into surplus in the 1990s. (Remember the “lock box”?) Then Bush and Cheney decided that deficits don’t matter—that you could conduct wars and do tax cuts at the same time.


      • TomH says:


        I remember when the budget was last balanced. It was a repub congress that pushed Clinton to balance the budget at the cost of an increase in taxes.

        Our govt. definitely needs to stimulate the entrepreneurial class, or at least do as little as possible to hinder them. This means that our govt. needs to keep taxes on entrepreneurs low enough so that entrepreneurs will be able to profit in the time frame that venture capitalists expect. This likely means an added tax burden for all levels of income. The class warfare envy game that the liberals like to play is detrimental to sharing the taxes broadly so that everybody has skin in the income tax game. Right now, the upper 50% pays almost all income taxes that are paid.

  3. santitafarella says:


    Broadly speaking, politics consists of economic, cultural, and foreign policies. You would never get a completely Friedmanite or libertarian experiment in economic policy without the Republican Party taking over. It would be a package deal. What energizes the Republican base (in my view) is the dream of the one party state—of a vanquishing of liberals from public life (at least in their ability to win elections, pick judges, etc). The left (a much smaller cultural phenomenon in the United States) is also animated by the dream of a one party state. But my view, as a liberal, is that there is value in checks and balances. They keep the country moving along in a kind of golden mean of bourgeois politics.

    The real problem, in my view, is that politics has arrayed itself in such a way that the political parties offer two unsustainable appeals to their constituents: tax the rich and spend v. borrow, give the money away in tax cuts, and spend. The compromise (if there is to be one) will be some combination of reductions in the spending that BOTH Republicans and Democrats like. This means defense, entitlements, and domestic spending all have to take real and substantial hits. Then we have to agree on a tax structure that actually funds what we want to have government do. It’s both the borrowing and the spending that have to be tackled honestly. The shell games have to end.

    The great tragedy would be if the political parties cannot do it themselves together, and it radicalizes the electorate and deligitimizes democracy (so that the majority of people want a one party solution). This is how politics devolved in Weimar Germany to disasterous effect.


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