Here’s the transcript of my conversation with John Boehner from yesterday’s program. The House GOP is firming up its opposition to the Pelosi package of payoffs and political gestures, and there is no way that the House bill should get more than a handful of GOP votes as those who do vote for it will be signaling a complete indifference to core principles of the party. I also asked the House GOP’s leader about the president’s shot at Rush Limbaugh:
JB: Well, I don’t want to characterize what went on in the meeting at the White House. That’s not really appropriate. But it was just, it was really just a casual remark as though some of us were taking instructions from Rush. Now I like Rush, but he’s a talk show host, and I’m in the policy-making business. And the President already heard what we had to say, and it didn’t come from Rush Limbaugh. It came from us. And I’m the one that outlined the kind of wasteful spending in here that I don’t think will achieve the objective.
HH: Do you think the conservative base, that listens to Rush, listens to me, listens to the other talkers, are behind you?
JB: I do. I think a lot of Americans, probably more than half the American people, are looking up at some of this spending and wondering what in the world are they doing? Or they’re saying “Oh. My. God. There they go again.”
Boehner and Limbaugh are on the same side, but President Obama is clearly more worried about Rush and the conservative media network than he is about the Congressional GOP, at least for the moment. It will be up to the GOP Senate to send a message that its cooperation depends at least in part on the attention paid to the Republican views in the House. If the GOP allows itself to get rolled on this enormously wasteful and counterproductive giveaway, it will have wasted a gift that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid gave them: The chance to quickly define themselves again as a party serious about economic growth and disciplined spending.