John Boehner couldn't round up enough votes in his own caucus for his Plan B last night; he looks weak, Republicans who are leaving town probably look childish and stubborn to most of the country, and now, I'm told by Brian Beutler, Democrats have a great deal of control over what happens next:
It sets up a scenario where Boehner's old nemesis Nancy Pelosi is suddenly back in the driver's seat, controlling the votes necessary to pass a deal.Ezra Klein writes:
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.Politico says that can only happen if an institutional barrier is overcome:
The White House's best hope is that Boehner takes a drastically different course and breaks with his own allies. He could decide to negotiate the best bipartisan package possible and put it on the floor with unanimous Democratic support and the backing of Republicans who want to avoid the cliff.I keep reading that if Boehner didn't care about keeping his speakership, ultimately he could get plenty of votes for a bipartisan deal that could then pass with Democratic as well as Republican votes. I'm not sure I believe that. If Boehner couldn't get enough votes to put a tax-increase-on-millionaires-only bill over the top when that bill was just meant to humiliate the president, why should we think he could get a vote to actually lock a tax increase into law -- even if it's past January 1 and we're all freaking out over the fiscal cliff? I know it would be a matter of wrangling far fewer votes than Boehner had last night. But that was for humiliation -- and he couldn't pull it off. This would be for a tax increase, which is the worst thing in the world to Republicans. Outside pressure to thwart a deal would be greater. GOP House members' fear of primary challenges would be greater.
But there's little expectation that he'll go that route and weaken his already shaky hold on the speakership. Boehner would flout the "majority of the majority" policy, which was instituted a decade ago by former House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill). It means that leaders do not put a bill on the floor unless it has the support of a majority of the majority.
"If Boehner keeps insisting on majority of the majority, we go over the cliff, since it's now clear nothing but a straight-up tea party bill can pass the house under those conditions," a senior Democratic Senate aide said.
I'm not sure we'll ever get a deal that reverse the majority of what the cliff does, even if Boehner agrees to work toward a bipartisan bill.* His caucus is crazy. I think last night was the tip of the crazy iceberg.
*I should have added: unless Democrats agree to (and propose) brutal benefit cuts and agree to restore all the Bush tax rates, with the possible -- possible -- exception of the rate on those making over $1 million a year, which Republicans may generously agree to sacrifice for real, although I wouldn't count on it.