Plan B Goes Down In Flames: Reax


Last night Boehner failed to get enough Republican votes to pass Plan B. Tomasky is dumbfounded:

[S]tep back and think of last night in this context: Plan B was a conservative plan with one little tiny dash of compromise, one small and mostly symbolic feather step outside the safe zone of hard-right ideology and toward…not even the center, but the far-right fringe of the center. And the Republicans could not vote even for that.

Rich Lowry sighs:

If part of what President Obama was after was Republican humiliation and disarray, it’s going better than even he could have hoped.

Avlon piles on:

A new CNN poll shows that for the first time, a majority of Americans view the Republican Party as “too extreme”—up 17 percentage points since the fall of 2010, before the Tea Party election.  Moreover, 53 percent of Americans say Republicans should be willing to compromise more in fiscal-cliff negotiations—but that’s the opposite of the message conservatives are sending to their leadership. Theirs is a worldview where any compromise on taxes equals death. By putting ideological purity ahead of the good of the country or the good of their party, they are revealing a streak of nihilism—“some men just want to watch the world burn” as Republican strategist Rick Wilson tweeted after the vote.

Kevin Drum considers what comes next:

One possibility is that this makes falling off the fiscal cliff much more likely. If the loonies won't even vote for Plan B, what are the odds they'll vote for a compromise bill along the lines that President Obama has offered? A second possibility—and I honestly don't know how likely this is—is that Boehner now knows he can't get the tea partiers to vote for anything, so he'll give up on the idea of bringing them into the fold. Instead of trying to craft a bill that can get 218 Republican votes, he'll round up fifty or a hundred of the non-crazies and pass a compromise bill along with 150 Democrats. On this reading, today's failure actually makes a fiscal cliff compromise more likely.

Daniel Gross believes a "deal may yet still happen":

It might be that it was necessary for the Republican leadership to fall on its face, to confront the utter unwillingness of a large number of Republicans to sign off on a tax-raising deal before it goes and tries to make a deal with House Democrats. That’s what happened with the passage of the TARP bill in the fall of 2008. Republicans revolted against Boehner and the Bush administration. In the end, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had to get down on his knees and beg House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for assistance. It ultimately passed with Democrats voting 172–63 for the bill, and with Republicans voting 108–91 against the bill.

Yglesias argues that a deal has become more likely:

[W]e learned something important about Republicans last night. What we learned is that though the clutch of die-hards is too big to let Boehner pass bills that lack Democratic support, these die-hards are not the majority of the caucus. Most House Republicans were prepared to back Boehner. Which is to say that most House Republicans, at the end of the day, endorse a pragmatic rather than a metaphysical view of tax politics.

Sarah Binder has doubts:

I am (perhaps too) slowly coming to the position that it might be impossible to avert the fiscal cliff.  That will certainly be the case if Boehner refuses to bring a deal to the floor that requires Democratic votes for passage.  That wasn’t his position in the spending and debt ceiling showdowns in 2011.  But neither did those bargains require Republicans to vote directly or indirectly to raise anyone’s taxes.  Indeed, House Republicans have steadfastly avoided such votes since they voted against George H.W. Bush’s 1990 “Read my lips” budget agreement.  Old anti-tax habits die hard.  This is probably especially so when the Club for Growth threatens to “primary” Republicans who vote to raise anyone’s taxes.  This dynamic—at once electoral and ideological—may be sufficient to detonate the short fuse left on the exploding can of sequestration and tax hikes.

Noam Scheiber's view:

In the end, what Obama failed to understand is that, appearances notwithstanding, he was never negotiating with Boehner. He was always negotiating with the majority of the House GOP, which is obviously well to Boehner’s right. Making concessions to them didn’t make a deal more likely. It just undermined his own position. (It’s also why the suggestion that it may get easier for Obama and Boehner to strike a deal over the next few days, in the relative calm afforded by the House’s adjournment for Christmas, seems to miss the point.) It's also why going over the cliff always looked more or less inevitable. Whatever Boehner’s desire to avoid that outcome, he was never the relevant decision-maker. It was always his conservative rank and file, a group that can’t be reasoned with, and which only understands the language of total victory or defeat. As luck would have it, it looks like they’ll be getting an outcome they comprehend.  

David Kurtz wonders whether Boehner's speakership can survive :

It is easy to overreact to these things in the moment, to overread them. But Speaker Boehner just put it all on the line. The entire nation was watching, and he was exposed. He knows it. His conference knows it. Anyone left in Washington who had doubts about this speaker’s clout now knows it, too. In a parliamentary system, he would resign and his party would elect a new leader. We don’t do it that way here … usually. But it’s hard to see how Speaker Boehner continues from here — or why he would want to.

Ezra Klein's related thoughts:

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.

What Philip Klein is hearring:

Speaking to members today, the sense I got was that rank and file Republicans understand the difficult position Boehner has been put in, with the tax cuts expiring automatically, Obama as president and Democrats in control of the Senate. So, many conservatives may have felt they needed to oppose “Plan B” so they didn’t get their hands dirty voting for what they saw as a tax increase (or perhaps they just feared how it would play in a potential primary challenge). But, these same members could still give a pass to Boehner, recognizing that he’s in a tough spot. Just as long as they get to keep their own hands clean and campaign as true conservatives who stood up to Obama.

Joyner thinks the GOP shot itself in the foot:

Politically, Boehner’s Plan B would have been a massive win for the Republicans. It would have put a bill passed by the Republicans out there to compete against mere negotiating proposals. It would have had quite a bit of support from Democrats, including prominent coastal senators like Chuck Schumer, who prefer the $1 million definition of “rich” over Obama’s $250,000 mark.

Erick Erickson differs:

Many on the right liked John Boehner’s Plan B. The conservative media, which craves access to Republican leaders at the expense of their values, fell all over itself to support Plan B. Their argument is very simple — without this, we go over the fiscal cliff and the GOP gets blamed. The fact is the GOP is going to get blamed no matter what. The fact is, if the GOP signaled to the American public it was willing to raise taxes on anyone, Barack Obama would have still rejected their deal and the GOP would still get blamed.

Chait's perspective:

Without Boehner’s fallback strategy, the bulk of his membership if left totally exposed to Obama’s withering January attack. If they were hoping to fight it out with the president after the New Year, their hopes of victory look even fainter now.

And Scott Galupo wishes the far-right wing of the GOP House would come to its senses:

These conservatives—well-intentioned, perhaps, but tactically foolhardy—are steering the Republican party and the movement into an iceberg that’s been in plain sight for weeks. I’d say I’m in disbelief, but this clown show has been going on too long now to say that.

(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)