GOP watches Ben Affleck's "The Town" to rally behind debt plan

Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner
Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner in "The Town." Warner Bros. Pictures

Updated at 2:30 p.m. ET

Even before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said House Speaker John Boehner's debt plan may cut less in spending than it initially promised, selling the plan to conservative Republicans was proving to be a challenge.

In an attempt to rally their Tea Party-backed conservative members, Republican leaders opened a Tuesday morning meeting with a clip of the movie "The Town," the Washington Post first reported.

The 2010 flick is about Boston bank robbers, and the scene that House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., played to the House GOP caucus depicts two characters about to go beat people up.

In that scene, Ben Affleck's character says, "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is. You can never ask me about it later." In its reporting, the Post left out Affleck's next line: "We're gonna hurt some people."

The character played by Jeremy Lee Renner replies, "Whose car we takin'?"

After viewing the clip, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., replied, "I'm ready to drive the car."

West's office confirms that the Tea Party-backed congressman did give that spirited reply and still backs Boehner's deficit reduction plan.

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West's support is notable, given his status as one of the more outspoken Tea Party members of the House. Boehner's plan for raising the debt ceiling and reducing the deficit was a tough sell even before the CBO said on Tuesday afternoon that the plan would only save $850 billion over 10 years -- not $1.2 trillion as promised.

"Boehner Plan is not a perfect bill," West said via Twitter Wednesday morning. "However, the fact Pelosi, Reid and Obama hate it doggone makes it perfect enough- where is their plan?"

Lawmakers remain deadlocked over a plan to raise the debt ceiling, even though the White House says Congress must raise the $14.3 trillion spending limit by August 2, or else the nation risks defaulting on its loans. The House was slated to vote on Boehner's plan today, but GOP leaders postponed the vote after the CBO released its analysis.

Update: Democrats seized on the anecdote today and lambasted Republicans for associating the movie with the current debt situation.

"In the scene they chose to inspire their House freshmen, one of the crooks gives a pep talk to the other, right before they both put on hockey masks, bludgeon two men with sticks, an shoot a man in the leg!" Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said today. "Literally, in the movie the protagonists say, "people are going to get hurt," but they have to go ahead and do it anyway. Ladies and gentlemen, this is your House majority."

Liberal blogger Matt Yglesias noted the anecdote about House Republicans watching "The Town" and remarked, "Indeed, Boehner's plan would hurt some people." He cites the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which said Boehner's plan "could well produce the greatest increase in poverty and hardship produced by any law in modern U.S. history."

Meanwhile, Affleck, who wrote and directed "The Town," said in a statement to the Huffington Post, "I don't know if this is a compliment or the ultimate repudiation."

He said watching his movie "The Company Men," which focuses on middle age men who have been laid off, would be more appropriate.