December 21 2012
The Death of Plan B
Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B to keep the United States from going over the so-called fiscal cliff died yesterday. Robert Costa went to the funeral:
[A]s [the House Republicans] took their seats and looked at Boehner’s face, the reason for the gathering became clear: The speaker didn’t have the votes. The whipping was over. “Plan B” was dead.
Boehner’s speech to the group was short and curt: He said his plan didn’t have enough support, and that the House would adjourn until after Christmas, perhaps even later. But it was Boehner’s tone and body language that caught most Republicans off guard. The speaker looked defeated, unhappy, and exhausted after hours of wrangling. He didn’t want to fight. There was no name-calling. As a devout Roman Catholic, Boehner wanted to pray. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” he told the crowd, according to attendees. …
Feelings were raw. Representative Steve King of Iowa, a frequent Boehner critic, looked at me, shook his head, and said, “I have nothing to say.”
I am no fan of raising taxes on anybody. I can agree with Carrie that there are good reasons to go over the fiscal cliff rather than accept a bad deal. But a case can be made that this was the best deal we’re likely to see. It may have been the only way to prevent automatic tax hikes on the entire taxpaying segment of the populace.
What the stunned reaction of the House Republicans tells me is that a lot of them were playing games with this issue. They expected the Speaker to do something at the end, no matter what they did. They never imagined he would pull the plug and send them home.
ABC’s Jonathan Karl said that Plan B failed after the President made it clear that he would veto it in the unlikely event that it reached his desk. They didn’t want to cast their votes for a bill that was going to die on the president’s desk. That is different from dying for a principle.
Jennifer Rubin writes:
A Republican senior aide explained, “We have some members that would rather let all tax rates go up ‘without their fingerprints’ than save some taxpayers from a tax hike and letting just the top rate go up. That is what it amounts to.”
In a separate item Rubin questions their ability to government as being any better than that of the dysfunctional Democrats in the Senate.
It’s all up to President Obama now. Not a very comforting thought. But I am convinced that Boehner did everything he could, although he never did a good job of telling the public what is really going on.
This was a time he could have said the he's been shuffling back and forth between the Hill and the White House to meet with a man who has no intention of giving a fraction of an inch.
The Wall Street Journal says that the president and his party may find going over the cliff less to their liking than they imagine. It will show that President Obama doesn't have what it takes to govern. I suspect he won't be blamed.