Speaker Boehner Didn't Want To Defend GOP Support For Oil Subsidies, So He Lied

April 26, 2011 1:19 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Speaker John Boehner

Predictably, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is already walking back his sudden and widely reported shift toward ending taxpayer giveaways to the oil industry. According to spokesman Michael Steel, the Speaker's suggestion that oil companies should be required to pay "their fair share" was simply an attempt to wiggle out of the "trap" presented by a reporter's uncomfortable question. As Politico reports:

John Boehner is running from his own suggestion yesterday that major oil companies no longer need some tax breaks. [...]

But speaker spokesman Michael Steel later tried to recast his boss' remarks: "The speaker made clear in the interview that raising taxes was a nonstarter, and he's told the president that," Steel said. "He simply wasn't going to take the bait and fall into the trap of defending 'Big Oil' companies."

While Boehner's reversal was all but guaranteed, the explanation from his office is really quite remarkable: Rather than falling into "the trap of defending 'Big Oil' companies," he intentionally misled viewers about his commitment to the Republican Party's unequivocal policy of defending 'Big Oil' companies. That is, Boehner didn't want to justify his position on camera, so he lied. 

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