The media portrayal of the fiscal cliff standoff (and the debt-ceiling talks from which it sprang) generally portrayed President Barack Obama and the Democrats as pragmatists attempting to negotiate with intransigent Republican ideologues. But as ever, the stance of non-ideological problem-solving itself is rich with ideological content. For the latest example read Stephen Moore's Wall Street Journal interview with Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago," Mr. Boehner says, "the president said to me, 'We don't have a spending problem.' " [...]
The president's insistence that Washington doesn't have a spending problem, Mr. Boehner says, is predicated on the belief that massive federal deficits stem from what Mr. Obama called "a health-care problem." Mr. Boehner says that after he recovered from his astonishment—"They blame all of the fiscal woes on our health-care system"—he replied: "Clearly we have a health-care problem, which is about to get worse with ObamaCare. But, Mr. President, we have a very serious spending problem." He repeated this message so often, he says, that toward the end of the negotiations, the president became irritated and said: "I'm getting tired of hearing you say that."
If this quote is accurate, it is both stunning and unsurprising.