Speaker of the House John Boehner was not able to corral Republicans on Thursday in time for a vote on his debt ceiling/deficit plan. The vote is now supposed to happen on Friday, and the stakes may never be higher for Boehner.
It is still, at this point, nearly inconceivable that Boehner’s bill could go down in flames. Because if it does, intransigent House conservatives will have handed President Obama one of the biggest victories of his term.
Here’s why: The Boehner bill is already a conservative bill that won’t pass the Senate. But if House Republicans can’t pass it on their own, they will have conclusively demonstrated that it will be impossible for them to come to agreement on any kind of compromise deal acceptable to both parties. They will have effectively declared themselves incapable of governing. [Pols emphasis]
In that situation, President Obama would have foolproof political cover to take dramatic action, such as declaring the debt ceiling unconstitutional under the grounds of the 14th Amendment, or simple “necessities of state.” If the House can’t pass the speaker’s own bill, with the entire nation (and the world) watching, with Wall Street on edge, and most amazingly of all, already having secured a deal that includes significant spending cuts without any revenue increases, House Republicans will be exposed as both irresponsible and incompetent.
This kind of thing just doesn’t happen. It is very very rare for the majority party to bring a major bill to the floor without knowing how the votes will go down. The last time, in fact, is seared into our cultural memory: the failed vote on TARP that set off a major market meltdown.
But that wasn’t Speaker Pelosi’s fault. On that infamous day, John Boehner failed to deliver his caucus. If history repeats itself, Washington will be a different town, and Boehner will be a neutered political leader. And those of us who lived through this period will wonder how in the world this man managed to hold the U.S. government hostage for so long, when he couldn’t even control his own party. [Pols emphasis]