Conservatives Scoff At Boehner’s ‘Dickens’ Claim

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Conservatives are challenging the claim by House Speaker John Boehner that they’re “beating the dickens out of” him just for profit.

“Well my voting record is as conservative as anybody here. The issue with the tea party isn’t one of strategy. It’s not one of different vision. It’s — it’s a disagreement over tactics, from time to time. Frankly, a lot is being driven by national groups here in Washington who have raised money and just beating the dickens out of me.

“Well you know, because it works. They raise money, put it in their pocket, and pay themselves big salaries,” Boehner told CBS’s “60 Minutes” for its Sunday show.

“I would welcome a public conversation with @SpeakerBoehner about the role of money in politics,” said a tweet from Mike Needham, the head of the Heritage Action for America, a spin-off of the Heritage Foundation.

“Our office isn’t aware of any requests for a meeting,” said Boehner spokesman Matt Wolking.

The contrast between reality and Boehner’s comments is especially sharp given his equanimity about business’ lobbying for its goals, such as increased immigration, said Dan Holler, Needham’s spokesman.

The Chamber of Commerce “spent more than $124 million to lobby Washington last year, an increase of almost $50 million from 2013,” he said, citing data prepared by the Center for Responsive Politics. “The next biggest spender, the National Association of Realtors, laid out $55 million in 2014, its biggest sum since 1998,” Holler added.

In contrast, the various grassroots groups advocating against increased immigration spent only a few million dollars. They include NumbersUSA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, Americans for Legal Immigration PAC and Heritage.

Their spending is trickle compared to business lobbying. From 2007 up to the start of 2013, business lobbies pushing for extra immigration spent $1.5 billion, according to the Sunlight Foundation.

That business spending has been so effective that many reporters and GOP leaders believe there’s a shortage of skilled professional workers, even though Americans’ salaries are flat, companies continue to lay off U.S. workers, and the GOP’s base is overwhelmingly opposed to increased immigration.

The clout of business’ lobbying was highlighted by the “60 Minutes” interview, when the anchor, Scott Pelley, reiterated talking points pushed by industry and by progressives, and GOP leaders weakly opposed Obama’s industry-backed push to increase immigration.

“The president has temporarily protected about five million illegal immigrants in this country from deportation,” said Pelley.

In fact, the president’s November announcement offered work permits to five million of the 12 million illegals, and promised to continue his long-standing post-2009 policy of not repatriating illegals who do not commit major crimes.

In response to Pelley’s question, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell briefly said his caucus would try to reverse the president’s unilateral amnesty.

“We will try to pass the [anti-amnesty] House bill when it comes over to us. And I think it’ll be vigorously supported by the vast majority of my members,” he said before switching the topic to presidential vetoes.

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