GOP Speaker-designate calls middle-class tax bill "chicken crap"

John Boehner tersely reaffirms congressional Republicans' commitment to block tax cuts unless rich are included

Published December 2, 2010 8:50PM (EST)

The tax cut bill considered by the House on Thursday isn't merely disappointing, it's "chicken crap." And Rep. Rob Bishop's three-piece suit?

"I told Mr. Bishop on the way in that just because he inherited this suit from his grandfather didn't mean he had to wear it," House Republican leader John Boehner teased his friend Thursday. "But his hair looks good."

Thus sayeth the next speaker of the House, purveyor of a far more cheeky style than his proper predecessor, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Boehner, one of a dozen children of their bar-owning father, is given to smoking, tanning, golfing and teasing people he likes most. He's also a weeper at key public moments and liked for his geniality by many lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The famously composed Pelosi, in contrast, is not known to have used even salty language in public. In private, the California Democrat might express her displeasure with something by describing it as "doggy doo" or just "poo," those who know her say.

Boehner often comes right out with it, even when cameras are rolling.

Asked about the Democrats' bill Thursday to extend Bush-era tax cuts only for the first $250,000 of income, the Ohio Republican was blunt. The Democrats' bill, unlike the Republican proposal to extend the cuts for every American, has no chance of passing the Senate. So do House Democrats risk losing any glint of bipartisan goodwill by bringing it up at all?

"I'm trying to catch my breath so I don't refer to this maneuver going on today as chicken crap, all right?" Boehner said Thursday at a news conference. "But this is nonsense, all right? The election was one month ago. We are 23 months from the next election, and the political games have already started trying to set up the next election."

At another point during the Thursday press conference, Oregon Republican Greg Walden, chairman of the GOP's transition to power, said one big change will be a reduction in the number of commemorative resolutions of the House considers every day. But one of his examples was a Boehner golf hero.

"If Americans knew we spent this week honoring and saluting golf legend Chi Chi Rodriguez ... while their taxes are about to go up and our national debt is exploding, they'd send us all packing," Walden said.

Boehner frowned.

"Now, there's nothing wrong with Chi Chi," Walden quickly added, glancing over his shoulder at the speaker-to-be. The House just has more important things to do, Walden said.

Boehner didn't dispute that premise. But he stepped up to the microphone, teased Bishop about his suit, and added this:

"Let me also express my apologies to my friend Chi Chi Rodriguez," Boehner said.

By Laurie Kellman

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