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After Voting For Deficit-Exploding Bush Tax Cuts for Rich & Calling for Their Extension, Republican Leader Boehner Claims Ignorance

July 28, 2010

In a meeting at the White House with President Obama and Congressional leaders from both parties yesterday, House Republican Leader John Boehner reportedly claimed he didn't know the deficit-exploding Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans were intentionally designed to kick their enormous cost down the road to the next Administration:

Mr. Obama, who did not join the Senate until 2005, reminded Mr. Boehner and the Senate Republican leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that the tax cuts' architects purposely left the deficit problem to a future administration, according to aides from both parties.

“I wasn't there,” Mr. Boehner quickly countered. “I didn't structure that deal.”

The room briefly went quiet as participants seemed to ponder that statement from a legislator first elected in 1990…

It’s difficult to understand how Mr. Boehner “wasn’t there” as the tax package was crafted with a 10-year sunset to disguise the true cost when he, as Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, was instrumental in designing the education provisions included in the tax cut package, voted in favor of it and witnessed George W. Bush sign the bill into law at the signing ceremony:

From the House Education and Workforce Committee, June 7, 2001:

… President George W. Bush today signed into law legislation allowing parents to save money in tax-free Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) for their children’s K-12 education expenses, including private school tuition. The ESA expansion…was signed into law as part of the most significant tax relief package in 20 years.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, June 8, 2001:

“This was a very big success for President Bush and the Congress,” said Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, one of several Tristate lawmakers who attended the signing ceremony at the White House.

From the New York Times, June 8, 2001:

In Congress today, a few Republicans talked about making the current bill permanent. An odd feature is that it expires on Dec. 31, 2010 — a sunset provision put in because of Congressional rules governing spending more than a decade in the future. But the real effect is to disguise the true cost of the tax cut if Congress extends the bill, which it will be under great pressure to do.

From Time magazine, June 3, 2001:

Topping the list of odd features is the “sunset” provision that repeals the entire bill at the end of 2010…By repealing the legislation in the 10th year, Congress saved billions of dollars. Without the repeal and a few other tricks, the cost of the full 11-year plan would balloon to more than $1.8 trillion by the end of 2011, far exceeding anything the Democrats would vote for. And the cost in the second decade would reach as much as $4 trillion. Even some conservatives on Capitol Hill are dismayed by the apparent dishonesty of the early sunset…The Big Lie is that it costs only $1.35 trillion. Since the real cost is much greater, future Administrations–and Congresses–will have to deal with a political nightmare: the real possibility of deficit spending a decade from now as baby boomers begin to retire en masse and sap the Social Security and Medicare systems.

Three other current members of the House Republican leadership were serving in the House and voted for the Bush tax cuts with the sunset provision to hide the true cost — Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Chairman of Republican Conference Mike Pence (R-IN), and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX).