Friday, December 21, 2012

Plan Boehner Fails-- House Adjourns For Christmas


The one upside: today is the shortest day of the year

As we saw last night, when McCarthy gave Cantor and Boehner his final whip count for Plan B, there weren't enough Republicans on board to pass it and, because the Blue Dogs are basically extinct, there weren't enough of them to plug the gap. So, just as voting was due to begin, Boehner called a meeting of GOP leaders to discuss what they could do and they decided to pull the bill and adjourn for Christmas. At a meeting of the caucus, Mike Kelly (R-PA), a tubby little CEO type and multimillionaire, was flabbergasted that the whole top down conservative way of doing things had failed and left Boehner with no leverage to deal with Obama. He got all emo and asked his colleagues, “What are you guys doing? How the hell can you do this to the Speaker?”

Shouting ensued, though no fisticuffs and luckily, Boehner had long ago decided to ignore Mafioso Rep. Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm's request that Members be allowed to pack heat on the floor of Congress. Despite Kelly's cluelessness, most of this is for show anyway, part of the faux-drama to make the punters think their leaders are standing up for the base. Neither side is standing up for the base and Obama and Boehner see eye to eye on the broad strokes of a Grand Bargain-- increasing taxes very, very, very slightly on a the rich-- imperceptibly slightly-- while cutting back on crucial programs for America's neediest, particularly by cutting back on Social Security cost of living adjustments. Grayson explained how that works in that same post last night.

Just after the non-vote, Ezra Klein asked, rather cuttingly, in a Washington Post column, a double-edged question-- will Boehner's speakershup survive until Plan C and if there's ever been a weaker Speaker than Boehner, with less control over his own caucus.
Plan A, which was a deal with Obama, was put on ice, many believe, because Boehner couldn’t wrangle the votes to pass anything Obama would sign. Plan B failed because Boehner couldn’t wrangle the Republican votes to pass something Obama had sworn he wouldn’t sign.

The failure of Plan B proved something important: Boehner doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass any bill that increases taxes-- even one meant to block a larger tax increase-- without a significant number of Democrats. The House has now adjourned until after Christmas, but it’s clear now what Plan C is going to have to be: Boehner is going to need to accept the simple reality that if he’s to be a successful speaker, he’s going to need to begin passing legislation with Democratic votes.

There’s an asterisk there, though: It’s not entirely clear whether Boehner will be the speaker of the House a month from today. The vote to elect the next speaker is on Jan. 3. To win, you need an absolute majority of the House, not a plurality. Even a hopeless conservative challenge that attracts only a handful of Republican votes could deny Boehner the speakership until a consensus candidate emerged. Tonight’s vote makes that challenge more likely.

A significant number of Boehner’s members clearly don’t trust his strategic instincts, they don’t feel personally bound to support him, they clearly disagree with his belief that tax rates must rise as part of a deal, and they, along with many other Republicans, must be humiliated after the shenanigans on the House floor this evening. Worse, they know that Boehner knows he’ll need Democratic support to get a budget deal done. That means “a cave,” at least from the perspective of the conservative bloc, is certain. That, too, will make a change of leadership appealing.

If a conservative spoiler runs, he or she could very possibly deny Boehner the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, clearing the way for a more moderate candidate like Eric Cantor to unite the party. It’s hard to say exactly how likely that is. But it’s likelier than it was, say, this morning.
Just imagine the idea of someone referring to Eric Cantor as :a more moderate candidate!" More moderate than what? Atilla the Hun? Francisco Franco? Benito Mussolini? The other one?

It's now becoming clear that for Boehner to get something through using Democrats, he'll have to agree to a bargain that probably makes him unelectable for another term as Speaker. He was once kicked out of Republican leadership before and came back a few years later. That won't happen again. If he sacrifices himself-- and he probably has no choice-- his political career is done. Pelosi (and Hoyer) will dole out the votes one by one, based on Boehner's willingness to swallow bitter pills that are anathema to most of his caucus. How tragic the bumbling Obama-- bumbling or something worse-- already gave away the Chained CPI and agreed to a tax rate increase that starts at $400,000 rather than $250,000.

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At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Megaman_X said...

What's going to happen to all of us?

At 5:07 AM, Anonymous me said...

Yup. Once again, O'Bummer snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

And buh-bye Boner! Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

At 11:39 PM, Anonymous Megaman_X said...

Did he snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Wasn't plan B going to cut Medicare and Social Security?


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