Boehner: We have a ‘moral responsibility’ to deal with debt, ‘start praying’

By Elizabeth TenetyHouse Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at the National Religious Broadcasters convention Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in Nashville. … Continued

By Elizabeth Tenety


House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, speaks at the National Religious Broadcasters convention Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011, in Nashville. In his speech, Boehner made his case for the GOP plan to prevent a shutdown of the federal government. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told an audience at the National Religious Broadcasters conference Sunday night that America’s national debt is a “moral hazard.”

Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody reported Monday that the “speaker of the House of Representatives came to the evangelical audience with a moral message.”

“We have a moral responsibility to deal with this threat to freedom and liberate our economy from the shackles of debt and unrestrained government,” he said.

Boehner made clear that this fiscal crisis requires people to get on their knees.

“This immense debt is a moral hazard,” Boehner said.

“When you begin to look at the big challenges that face our country both here and the challenges that we see abroad many people begin to realize that they better start praying as well,” he added.

The budget crises facing government at all levels have led to debates over the morality of funding a variety of programs –from the House vote to defund family planning and health services at Planned Parenthood –to religious leaders, including the U.S. Bishops, calling out Wisconsin’s “moral obligation” to pro-union protesters. On Monday, 27 Christian leaders, including Rev. Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Dr. Joel Hunter and Rev. Samuel Rodriguez asked “What would Jesus cut?” in a full-page ad in Politico.

Brody’s CBN dispatch also included this quote from Boehner:

“It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China. No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.”

Was Boehner sending a spiritual signal? Matthew’s gospel says something similar: “When the son of God comes in his glory,” the passage reads, “the King will say to those on his right:”

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Can the right pivot from free market to moral market? Do you agree with Boehner that America’s national debt is a moral hazard?

Elizabeth Tenety
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  • wesatch

    Why wasn’t Boehner praying eight years ago when his hero Bush was spending us broke to avenge his Daddy from Saddam?This man is truly a sack of Republican scat.

  • JohnDinHouston

    Ah, John Boehner. You know, really, Republicans; if you want a lot of America to take you seriously, well, you know…

  • kgirl2

    Um, “moral hazard” doesn’t mean what Boehner thinks it means. Moral hazard is the phenomenon that results when an entity doesn’t bear the full risk of its actions (because it’s legally or otherwise insulated from risk). It refers primarily to maldistribution of resources, or economic inefficiencies, that result when an actor can proceed without having to take responsibility for all the consequences of its actions. Insurance creates the classic example of moral hazard since it allows insureds to displace risk onto the insurance company.

  • Syllogizer

    The hypocrisy of Boehner’s appeal to prayer and morality is just blinding. The man lies shamelessly to his constituents and the whole public, claiming to be interested in helping them when he is REALLY only interested in helping his lobbyists. And then he has the gall to call on the rest of us to be moral?But most important of all, where was his call to responsibility when the lobbyists came knocking and offered him millions for ruining the nation’s economy?

  • JimW2

    Mr Boehner

  • Bushwhacked1

    So Congressman Boner thinks the country should be on it’s knees? Sorry pal, we’re there already – thanks to the Republicans.

  • roscym1

    Where was his moral outrage when Reagan and Bush quadrupled the national debt to support voodoo trickle down economics? Where was his outrage when junior tripled to national debt to provide more tax breaks and a stupid unnecessary war?

  • guyachs

    Why was he so morally challenged when Bush was president driving up the deficit with his concurrence. He’s just another phony!

  • tinyjab40

    Why wasn’t Boehner preaching his righteous message when George W. Bush was in office. GWB added more to the deficit than all the presidents before him combined. The onloy president to try to deal with the deficit was Bill Clinton. The major part of the deficit was accrued in GOP administrations, especially those of Ronald Reagan and GW Bush.

  • ozma1

    According to John Boehner the debt is a “moral hazard”. Ergo, one of the things that must be done, as approved by his caucus, is to cut Medicaid funding to the states. Who gets disproportionately affected by those cuts? Children. Republicans pose a moral hazard to children.

  • elwoll

    O for a ban on all this religious s__t!

  • fmamstyle

    Boehner: Debt is ‘moral hazard’Cheney: Deficits don’t matter.GOP: Hypocrisy is our first talking point.

  • MichelleKinPA

    It’s not a “moral hazard” when the rich get their tax break? The upshot is, it’s ok when Republicans do anything, because “we’re the party of family values”. NOT!!!!!

  • areyousaying

    Dan Quayle started to tell us about Republican “family values” and morals a while back. Lord Cheney demonstrated them with his lies of weapons of mass destruction, pre-emptive war and trampling on the Constitution under the pretext of “war on terror.” Huckabees continued to demonstrate them by demonizing their Muslim “enemies” while they suckle their teats for America’s oil addition.Do tell us of “morals” Boehner, and of your “Christian Nation” whose first priority is endless war instead of basic medical care like Israel has or decent education here at home.You have about as much credibility moralizing to the rest of us as does the pervert-priest-hiding Catholic Church.

  • WmarkW

    Republican family values are a crick of shot.They talk about the years 1946-60 as a period of values, as evidenced by the record marriage rate and baby boom, while ignoring the role labor unions, job security and relatively even income distribution played in encouraging family formation.The free agent economy they love, encourages free agent lifestyles they hate.If the Repubs were serious about family values, they’d create an economy that encouraged them. Instead, values are just a tool they use to reduce the social cost of their pro-wealthy economics.

  • wildfyre99

    There isn’t a politician in Washington today who I would trust to wipe the mud off of my shoes, without trying to steal those same shoes. Both parties have forgotten that our government works for US… not the other way around!

  • acebojangles

    I think what Boehner means is that it’s only moral to shackle our kids with debt if the alternative is:A. Raising taxes for any reason.

  • davewaugh

    Republicans refuse to cut subsidies for NASCAR (McClatchy)…

  • Conserve

    Let’s cut to the chase. Get the jobs and the deficit will take care of itself. the Republiicans are the moral hazard. By cutting the deficit on the backs of poor people and not working on adding jobs they feel the next President will be a Republican. Good Luck!! They are in a box they cannot get out of. Obama will be the next President You had better start producing jobs or you will be out.

  • ewjazzed

    If he wants to eliminate the deficit, in these days and times, why don’t they look at the pension contribution being made by the taxpayers. There is no reason why legislators should be afforded their salary in retirement when WE the American people don’t have that benefit accorded us. Today most companies are freezing pensions and only allowing retirees to collect their 401(k). This is an entitlement that has always been off the table for discussion. And it should be considered.

  • hebe1

    “It is immoral to bind our children to as leeching and destructive a force as debt. It is immoral to rob our children’s future and make them beholden to China. No society is worthy that treats its children so shabbily.”Yes, it is a MORAL issue and you do not need to bring RELIGION into the discussion unless you are a POLITICIAN or Tenety, who does not know what MORAL means.All Boehner is sayins stop kicking the can, stop passing the buck! He has picked up on the not so subtle disgust Americans are feeling over abusive spending and rhetoric spewing politicans who act like children when they are actually forced to ACT and not just talk.What would Jesus cut! Come on! Are we all morons? Is it moral to deny teachers benefits paid by taxpayers? Yes! if we want education to improve then we need to encourage teachers through insentive programs. We need to lay of the bad teachers instead of the newest. We need to not addle tax payers with providing pensions to all government employees when we cannot afford healthcare, houses, or a savings for ourselves!

  • adrienne_najjar

    Boehner is a moral hazard.

  • jismquiff

    Apparently Boehner doesn’t consider consorting with female D.C. lobbyists a moral issue. After all, his family members living at home in Ohio — not to mention his constituents — don’t have to know everything about his unattached existence in the nation’s capital when Congress is in session.

  • PoliticalPrisoner2012

    The real “moral hazards” in our country are John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor the other right-wing mobsters who have created this mess and now are using it as an excuse to kill off our society.

  • PoliticalPrisoner2012

    Anyone else notice Boehner’s and the power-is-glory religious “leaders” don’t bother with other moralities likeeducating children for a futurefeeding impoverished childrenhousing homeless childrenproviding for unwanted childrenhealth care for the impoverishedheating assistance for the impoverishedsafe and adequate roadsadequate public transportationJOBS JOBS JOBSadequate taxation to pay fro required servicesoversightregulations to protect citizens from predatory corporations in the banking and insurance industryconsumer product safetyprotection from illegal search and seizureprotection from media personalities inciting civil unrest through disinformationThe list is as endless as the right-wing lies.

  • wireman65

    Sure, let’s all pray, I’m sure the National Debt will just go away.

  • zorro2

    Moral hazard? Let’s get out the soap box! Greed is a moral hazard. As is indifference to the suffering of others. And what of war? The ones brought to us on false pretense?

  • checkingxyz

    Mr. Boehner clearly expressed his dislike of debt: does that mean that the huge tax breaks of the rich, the executive bonuses, etc will NOT be pushed by his party.

  • YEAL9

    Christian Economics/Greed 101The Baptizer drew crowds and charged for the “dunking”. The historical Jesus saw a good thing and continued dunking and preaching the good word but added “healing” as an added charge to include free room and board. Sure was better than being a poor peasant but he got a bit too zealous and they nailed him to a tree. But still no greed there.Paul picked up the money scent on the road to Damascus. He added some letters and a prophecy of the imminent second coming for a fee for salvation and “Gentilized” the good word to the “big buck” world. i.e. Paul was the first media evangelist!!! And he and the other Apostles forgot to pay their Roman taxes and the legendary actions by the Romans made them martyrs for future greed. Paul was guilty of minor greed?Along comes Constantine. He saw the growing rich Christian community and recognized a new tax base so he set them “free”. Major greed on his part!!The Holy Roman “Empirers”/Popes/Kings/ Queens/Evangelists et al continued the money grab selling access to JC and heaven resulting in some of today’s An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue, ( Professors Crossan and Wright are On Faith panelists). “Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God’s hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus’ failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing.”

  • 44fx2901

    I very much doubt Boehner knows the difference between a moral hazard and the Dukes of Hazard.

  • MDT1

    HYPOCRITE! John Boehner never spoke about the immorality of the debt or deficit when he help raise the deficit out of sight during the Bush/Cheney administration by not paying for the war still going on and cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans, on the backs of working middle class Americans. In fact this country had been burdened under huge deficits by the borrow and spend conservative Republican’s starting with the fiscally irresponsible Ronald Reagan. It finally took a Democratic administration led by President Clinton to eliminate the huge Republican deficits and leaving office with a large surplus, which again was promptly squandered by the afore mentioned Bush/Cheney/Boehner triumvirate. Boehner you are a moral fraud!

  • changeisconstant

    Boehner is the moral hazard.

  • pdq5

    Damn even Conservative Joe Scarborough is calling for getting out of Afghanistan..The rest of us have been dying to get out..

  • cile92

    No, useless man Boehner, it is a country that fails to provide for all of its citizens that suffers from a moral hazard. Or a country with 2% of its population that possess obscene amounts of wealth that poses a moral hazard. I walked through the halls of Congress two weeks ago to advocate for funding for prevention and treatment of HIV infection, and found myself walking through what I can describe as an isolated kingdom. These politicans spend their days in Washington so far removed from its citizens, enjoying thier large offices, many staff, their own cafeteria, they have no idea how ordinary Americans are living. That is a moral hazard, pretending to serve all of the people who elected them. Shame!

  • eezmamata

    John Boehner signed the contract with America back in 94, one of the promises they made was … get this, term limits.That was during the last century, 17 years ago when he signed it.Every day he keeps his job makes him a lying sack of sht.

  • jo_joseph_99

    Mr cry-baby Boehner is stipulating that the government is imoral for over spending. Yet he is willing to cut most of the programs that help the poor. Mr (cry-baby) Boehner is the government imoral because it is headed by a Black ? Is that what you are trying to say subliminally ?

  • eezmamata

    If Boehner was only a drunk, I wouldn’t have a problem with that. But being a drunk, and sucking on the rabit rightwingnutjob christian dick to keep his job – which he PROMISED to quite once he reached a reasonable term limit … both of these things make him as disgusting a scumbag as any other in congress.

  • jfristriut

    Greed is immoral and that is what caused the deficit….!!!Boehner works for the aristocracy….

  • Freethotlib

    Boner says debt is a moral hazard? Really? Well there they go again — trying to rewrite history. FACT is – the debt was in the conservative game book and has been since the late 1970s. “The conservative game plan, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea — propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol — was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait-and-switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.And the deficit came.” Paul Krugman, Pittsburg Post Gazette, 2/28/2011Remember all you voters who are wondering where the fault lays. It lays at the feet of the GOP and its conservative destroyers. They gave us debt and they gave us debt DELIBERATELY.

  • WmarkW

    @FreeThotLib, I agree that was the strategy, and is very unfortunate, the question is whether it was necessary.The Reagan years until now pretty much coincided with the Baby Boomer’s prime earning years, and should have been a good time to pay off the federal deficit, not increase it. Now that we’re facing a generation of increased senior expenses, coupled with reduced revenues and debt capacity, we’re finally facing tough questions about social security, defense and state pension funds.It’s possible that this is the inevitable result of democracy — as long as it’s an option, taxing the unborn (i.e. running a deficit) is the easiest compromise to make.While Boehner is a hypocrite, he is still right about one thing — this is the last change for Baby Boomer’s to acknowledge the debt THEIR generation rang up. Any additional debt, simply constitutes them living their whole lives off their children.

  • home4rent

    Boehner and the Republicans are a morale hazard! If he wants to cut funding, START with DEFENSE! Do not start punishing Americans that cannot afford to lose certain programs right now.

  • craigbrewer

    Republicans of Boehner’s ilk are the moral hazard to this nation.

  • John1263

    message to boner and the gop — starving children because they are poor is a moral hazzard. Denying millions of people access to doctors because they did not chose the right jobs or parents is a moral hazzard. Crushing working people so the rich can have greater luxury is a moral hazzard. Destroying the earth for 30 pieces of silver is a moral hazzard. Accruing numbers on a spread sheet? Not so much in comparison…

  • futboldreamer

    It has already been said by many of the people who have commented, but it’s really worth repeating again: Where were Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadership that crying about the large federal deficit, when Bush and his conspirators were taking the country from budget surplus left by a previous Democrat president to the cleaner — by sending our soldiers to die unnecessarily in Iraq, borrowing from foreign countries to fund his personal war in Iraq, needlessly giving away money to the rich, etc.? During that period, more Americans fell into poverty. Where is the morality there, Boehner? You must be burning pot and inhaling it at your altar for the self-serving rich lobbyists!!!Don’t think I am saying this because I am a Democrat. No!! I used to vote for Democrats and Republicans, depending on the merits of the candidates.

  • lufrank1

    Boehner’s concept of morality is about as accurate as his belief that Terri Schiavo’s Cognitive Brain was still “alive”.

  • bam1969

    Funny how for 8yrs Bush, Rove et al said that “defecit spending was good…Reagan did it and it was fine for the govt then”..Now after two wars, tax breaks for the rich and near depression..republicans want to play the moral card..

  • Letsmakeitbetter

    Why is no one talking about cutting the Defense Budget? It is 1/2 of the US budget for next year and have only heard Sen. Lieberman protesting buying unnecessary $45 millon jet engines (thanks Joe!). Can we talk about the 8 ton gorilla in the room?

  • folder9633

    The Exalted and Most Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster has decreed that John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are sanctimonious hypocrites, with their constant invocations of an imaginary deity and his fictional son to justify their nefarious machinations.

  • jckdoors

    A huge debt is not all we’re leaving the kids. We are also leaving them a cesspool to live on. The GOP answer to everything is more God and more guns.

  • northernharrier

    What about our moral responsibility to the hundreds of thousands of people who will lose their jobs if all of the cuts proposed by the Republicans are made? Moreover, it is a violation of the 1st amendment of the Constitution for the House Speaker to prescribe prayer for all U.S. citizens for any reason, including the use of prayer to solve the country’s financial problems. Mr. Boehner’s enthocentrism is appalling.

  • bert8

    When money takes on greater value than people’s wellness, you are engaged in unethical behavior.John Boehner is a moral hazard.He needs to seriously look in a mirror and think about what kind of people Americans be.

  • kashe

    For this a***ole to be talking about morals, while they’re cutting children from insurance and trying to eliminate the EPA, among other outrages, is way beyond chutzpah!

  • cecilg

    The budget is an entity that restricts and enables. It makes possible or prevents actions or conditions that impact individuals and society in helpful or hurtful ways. Thus the budget has moral implications.

  • YEAL9

    Being Speaker of the House is not easy. It appears all that anti-Pelosi rhetoric wreaked upon Pelosi by the Republicans has come back to haunt Boehner as he is taking the same kind of flak now from the Democrats. Revenge is so sweet!!!

  • cecilg

    I do not know too much about John Boehner’s religious beliefs or about his personal morality and character. My Bad.I do know from reading all of the comments on this post that there is strong consensus among the posters that John B is a hypocrite, a servant of the rich, a totally sef-serving immoral person. All this may be true, but I hope it is not, because like him or not he is at least temporarilly one of our nation’s leaders.The question poised for this post has not really been addressed. “Is the budget a moral document?” Well, morality has to do with right and wrong, and the budget is an enabling and a rerstricting entity – enabling or restricting both good and bad outcomes. Hence, it is a document with moral implications.Is the national debt a moral hazzard? In the short term maybe not so much, but in the long term it is likely to result in great harm to many people — a long term moral problem.Assuming for this discussion (what most other responders will consider rediculous) that John actually believe there is some value in prayer, is it then okay for him as an elected official to express his belief and recommend prayer? I’m not certain about the constitutionality of such behavior, but I don’t object provided he doesn’t try to require prayer or discriminate against those who don’t pray, or spend tax dollars in support of prayer.Morality is not a religious issue. Prayer is.