Boehner To Obama: Fire Your Economic Advisers

House Minority John Boehner is getting a lot of attention for calling for mass firings at the White House. The real news, though, is that his speech is shifting the focus of the political conversation back to the economy. Which is just what the GOP needs.

House Minority Leader John Boehner took a shot at the Obama Administration’s economic policies today:

CLEVELAND — House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Tuesday for the mass firing of the Obama administration’s economic team, including Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and White House adviser Larry Summers, arguing that November’s midterm elections are shaping up as a referendum on sustained unemployment across the nation and saying the “writing is on the wall.”

Boehner said President Obama’s team lacks “real-world, hands-on experience” in creating jobs that are needed for a full economic recovery. The Republican lawmaker cited reports that some senior aides complained of “exhaustion,” including the recently departed budget chief Peter Orszag.

“President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council,” Boehner said in the morning speech to business leaders at the City Club of Cleveland. The mass dismissal, he added, would be “no substitute for a referendum on the president’s job-killing agenda. That question will be put before the American people in due time. But we do not have the luxury of waiting months for the president to pick scapegoats for his failing ‘stimulus’ policies.”

Vice President Biden lashed back at Boehner, called his “so-called” economic plan nothing but a list of what Republicans are against and devoid of innovative new ideas that can help move the country forward.

In a sarcastic tone, Biden thanked Boehner for the suggestion that the president fire his top economic advisers.

“Very constructive advice and we thank the leader for that,” Biden said.

Boehner’s call for mass firings makes for good sound bite material, but it surely doesn’t accomplish anything substantive. After all, Boehner knows that even if Obama fired his entire economic staff today, they’d be replaced by people who largely agree with the Geithner/Summers ideas. Certainly, Obama isn’t going to be appointing free-market conservatives to run his economic policy.

Moreover, Boehner’s demand inevitably brings up the question of who you bring in to replace them and, as Slate’s David Weigel noted this morning on Twitter the traditional GOP practice of looking to the business and financial community for such people hasn’t exactly worked out well in the past:

I like the suggestion of putting a “business leader” in charge. Like, err, Paul O’Neill, John Snow, or Hank Paulsen!

All of whom, of course, didn’t see the 2008 economic crisis coming, or at least didn’t do anything to try to stop it if they did.

While it’s certainly drawing attention this afternoon,  Boehner’s call for resignations isn’t really about who sits in what office in the West Wing. As Ed Morrissey and Andrew Malcom both point out, it’s gotten the focus of the political debate back to the economy, as has today’s depressing news about housing sales. That’s exactly where it needs to be for the Republicans, not on a mosque in Manhattan or questions surrounding the President’s mission.

From now until Election Day, Republican candidates should only be talking about two issues — jobs and the economy. Any time they spend talking about anything else is a waste. For their own sake, one hopes that Boehner’s speech will shift the focus back to where it should be.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Congress, Economics and Business, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Boyd says:

    It would be naïve to regard Boehner’s advice as anything other than politics (the same goes for Biden’s response). It’s not intended as a prescription for righting the Obama Administration’s economic course. As you said, Doug, its purpose is to get the political focus back on the topic that will best serve Republicans in the November elections, notwithstanding any claims to the contrary.

    I suspect that this will end up being a successful strategy.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Can’t recall Boehner calling on Bush to do the same. But why blame the guy who steered you onto the rocks when you can blame the damage control crew?

  3. Brummagem Joe says:

    Sorry to question popular wisdom here but the economy isn’t exactly a bad field for Obama to fight on. In fact I suspect it’s going to figure largely in the campaign the Democrats are putting together. He’s alreadly test marketing themes (Don’t give them the keys back etc) and he has acres of raw material to draw on. Basically the Republican stance is all negative and in the one area where they claim “new ideas” does anyone really think Paul Ryan’s policy prescriptions are going to stand up to close scrutiny because if they if they do they can’t be very familiar with them.

  4. steve says:

    “I suspect that this will end up being a successful strategy.”

    They dont need much of a strategy, just a bad economy. People largely vote on conditions, at least the independents who decide elections do so.


  5. Pug says:

    They dont need much of a strategy, just a bad economy.,

    True. They don’t really need to have a plan . . . and they don’t.

  6. EJ says:

    “They don’t really need to have a plan. . . and they don’t.”

    Opposition parties rarely do. What was the Dem’s great governing plan crica 2006 other then “we arent george bush?” If they gain power they will then be forced to offer something. Until then, you only will see opposition parties put forth an actual agenda via their presidential candidate.

  7. ponce says:

    When Boner the Orange speaks on camera does anyone really listen to what he’s saying?

    He should stick to radio or fire all his spray on tan consultants.

  8. Dantheman says:

    As Steve Benen puts it:

    “In the early 1990s, John Boehner (R-Ohio) was absolutely convinced that President Clinton’s economic agenda would be a disaster. He was wrong. Early on in the last decade, Boehner couldn’t have been more certain that President Bush’s economic agenda would generate incredible prosperity. Wrong again. And last year, Boehner just knew that President Obama’s recovery efforts wouldn’t help the economy at all. Strike three.” link

    Doing the opposite of Boehner’s advice has a far better track record than following his advice. And yet, the Boehners of the world are never called on their appalling record by the so-called liberal media.

  9. Herb says:

    “From now until Election Day, Republican candidates should only be talking about two issues — jobs and the economy.”

    I agree. But unfortunately, they’ll need to do more than just repeat “jobs” and “the economy” ad nauseum. Scott McGinnis, the failed candidate for Colorado’s governor, still has signs hanging around town that says, “McGinnis, a Jobs Governor.” No doubt, he got the branding memo too.

    But what does that even mean? They’re going to need to go beyond slogans…and sadly, I don’t think they can.

  10. Actually Herb, as long as the economy is in the craptacular condition it is right now, as long as unemployment remains just shy of 10%, and as long as the economic statistics continue to show that neither business nor consumers have any confidence that we really are in a real recovery, they won’t have to do much else.

    As a wise man once said —- It’s the economy, stupid.

  11. Rebecca Burlingame says:

    Maybe Boehner and Summers should just have a duel. It would be more fun.

  12. Herb says:

    “…they won’t have to do much else.”

    To win the election, sure… But then what? How are Republicans going to help lower unemployment? How are they going to improve consumer confidence? Do they even know?

    The last guy who said, “It’s the economy, stupid” at least had a plan. What’s the GOP’s plan? From where I’m sitting it sounds like this: “Win election – ???? – Profit”

  13. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Herb, if you would set down the crack pipe for a minute and listen, you would know what the GOP plans are. Funny thing about that. Evidently you didn’t listen when the Democrat made their promises either. Odd, I don’t remember them saying 06 that if they got into power they would grossly increase the size of government. Remember what the economy was like before the Democrats took control of congress. Blame Bush all you want, but congress spends the money and makes the laws. Clinton had a good economy because he had a GOP congress. Check out the deficits Bush ran and the ones Obama has. Can you say shocking?

  14. Herb says:

    Zels, I’m not blaming Bush. I’m asking why I should vote for a Republican based on their economic policies. Do you have a reason?

    Does anyone?

  15. wr says:

    Zels — It was only an hour or so ago that you stomped out of here, vowing never to return because of all the Islamocommiefascist cooties. Now you’re back already? That’s a shocking failure to live up to your own principles, even coming from one who whines about the evils of government spending while cashing unemployment checks.

  16. russ says:

    I believe that Howard Dean’s 50 state theory proves that along with the economy being a factor in how people vote, where they vote is also a factor. States with high unemployment will have people seeking change from new representation and those in low unemployment states would be more inclined to reelect their current representatives. Politics is viewed by most people on TV nationally and voted on locally.

  17. tom p says:

    John Boehner … John Boehner …

    Let me ask a simple question: Who here would follow investment advice from that a**hole?

    Given that, who here would follow economic advice from that idiot?

    Please, take me back to the days when the economy was good and we were actually paying down the deficit. Not like now, where the guy who got elected 1&1/2 years ago and hasn’t quite been able to fix the f*ck-ups of the last ten gets blamed for every thing…

  18. tom p says:

    >>>Given that, who here would follow economic advice from that idiot?<<<

    Yeah… I know… a majority of the American electorate.

    Boy, are we f*cked.

  19. john personna says:

    Interesting claim from the CBO today:

    CBO said President Barack Obama’s stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity.

    I don’t really trust the models, but the wide rage gives me a little confidence that these folks aren’t over-mining the data.

  20. john personna says:

    (I think Boehner’s complaint boils down the stimulus not being as magic as we needed. That might work politically. To many it is magic and hocus pocus. What Boehner needs though is for people to miss that his ‘plan’ isn’t really a plan:

    … if only we had unspecified budget cuts sometime in the future, that would save us!

    Or not.)

  21. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Not like now, where the guy who got elected 1&1/2 years ago and hasn’t quite been able to fix the f*ck-ups of the last ten gets blamed for every thing…*** Quite been able? Gets blamed for everything? So now if we get in time machine and go back say like 9 and a 1/2 years you might have a point.

    lol, I would say he has not quite been able to totally destroy the economy yet and he blames Bush for every thing.

    You libs should stick to your best talking points, they don’t have a plan, their racists, bigots, and the are a feared of people who enjoy perverted sex, oh and they don’t like murdering babies.

    Crap did I forget they love big oil and hate the environment.

    All highly brilliant plans in themselves, master strategies…….

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Does anyone?***Paul Ryan? He has plan, but it does more then save Union jobs and blow money on unnecessary union projects so you might not like it, and it doesn’t waste billions of dollars on dumb $hit to get to get votes.

  23. Herb says:

    Paul Ryan’s plan didn’t even make it out of committee. The Republicans already in office give it a lot of lip service, but no serious support. Adding a few more Republicans isn’t going to change that.