John Boehner isn’t known for commanding national headlines, but a combination of a verrry slow news moment and a catchy gimmick–calling on Obama to fire his economic team–is producing some decent headlines for the Republican House leader, who hopes to replace Nancy Pelosi as House Speaker next year. Jay already did an excellent job of summarizing and truth-testing Boehner’s remarks. I would add a couple of thoughts. One, although Boehner does deserve credit for serving up a few specific proposals, and was credited for it by the cable chatterers this morning, at the heart of his speech was a gaping chasm. Republicans are hammering Barack Obama and the Democrats over the budget deficit, but Boehner’s most detailed solution was to call for a return to 2008 discretionary spending levels–a move that would exact painful short-term cuts while bringing a negligible effect on America’s medium- and long-term budget crisis. (By Boehner’s own admission this would merely “show Washington is ready to get serious” about deficits). After that, as Jay noted, Boehner expects Obama to propose the really “aggressive” budget cuts. That’s not exactly bold leadership.
Second, I would love to know whom Boehner thinks should take the White House jobs of Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, et al. Obama’s economic team represents mainstream centrist Democratic economic thought. Were Obama to throw those guys out, the only plausible alternative would be an even more Keynsian, stimulus-oriented bunch. Secretary Krugman, anyone? I doubt Boehner would applaud that.