Speaker Boehner: Divisive Policy Riders "Just As Important" To GOP As Spending Cuts

April 05, 2011 4:36 pm ET — Alan Pyke

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed at a press conference this afternoon that the GOP cares as much about advancing the culture wars through controversial social policy as they do about spending cuts — and they're prepared to shut down the government to get their way.

Asked by a reporter if the budget riders (which would defund Planned Parenthood, among other things) were holding up his negotiations with the Senate and White House, Boehner said, "We will continue to insist that the policy riders passed in H.R. 1 are on the table. It's just as important to many of our members as the spending cuts themselves." In case anybody missed the message, Boehner reiterated his commitment just before walking away from the microphones.

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You'd expect this kind of zealotry on social issues from someone like Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), but Boehner is the Speaker of the House and the de facto leader of his party. Most of the Tea Party activists who swept Boehner into power last November insisted their movement was about fiscal issues and not cultural fault lines. Regardless of how the base feels, Speaker Boehner and the GOP are going to the wall not for jobs legislation, not for meaningful spending cuts, but for a chance to shave a few paltry billions from programs they hate.

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