Just a rumor, but the NRO guys have been reliably tapped-in throughout this process.
Hearing House may pass its bill and then skip town.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) October 15, 2013
We’ll see. In a way, this would be a perfect ending to this trainwreck: A big show of “toughness” that will almost certainly backfire politically while gaining the party almost nothing in concessions. The new GOP offer to the Senate is a very modest “ask” — repealing a medical-device tax that Reid himself considers “stupid,” forcing government officials (but not their staffs) onto the ObamaCare exchanges, and demanding half-assed enforcement of Obama’s anti-fraud provisions. In a sane world Reid would accept it instantly in return for ending the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, but Democrats have never been interested in a policy deal out of this process. They want to teach the GOP a lesson that fiscal brinksmanship doesn’t pay, and so, with the debt ceiling 48 hours away, we now have a big showdown over whether the “defund” effort will end up with one percent of what it wanted originally or, if Reid wins, absolute zero. Ramesh Ponnuru puts it succinctly:
The "wins" in the House plan are not that big, but not sure Ds can accept any R wins for ending shutdown, raising debt limit.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) October 15, 2013
If Reid would rather tank the economy by hitting the debt ceiling than accept a meager House counter-offer, he should answer for that. But, precisely because the offer is so meager (more a “modification” of the Senate bill than a House counteroffer), Boehner et al. may calculate that they need to do something to “impress” disappointed conservatives. Adjourning and heading home after the House bill passes to show that this is their take-it-or-leave-it middle-finger final offer to Obama might do that — but it’ll also let O, Reid, and the media jump up and down and pronounce Republicans callously indifferent to hitting the debt ceiling. It would also undercut the whole “let’s talk” message that Republicans like Boehner and Rand Paul have been pushing for the past two weeks. So that’s where we are right now, with Reid wondering whether a sweetheart deal isn’t quite sweetheart enough to justify avoiding a major economic crisis and Boehner possibly ready to shoot the party in the foot again by doing something which he thinks will endear the House GOP to righties but probably won’t matter much to them.
As Ed noted in the last post, I don’t understand why, with so little time left, Boehner and Reid are haggling over penny ante concessions instead of agreeing on a clean debt-ceiling hike in the name of averting technical default. When I floated that idea on Twitter, a bunch of conservatives tweeted back that I was selling out and siding with Reid. Either they’re confused or I’m confused because, as of a few days ago, raising the debt ceiling was an idea supported even by some tea-party bigwigs. The idea is to punt the debt ceiling down the road for a few months and then dig in on the shutdown in order to extract major ObamaCare concessions from the White House; the only disagreement with Democrats is over how long the debt-ceiling hike should last and whether there should be any token concessions attached to it. At this late hour, Boehner would probably be willing to pass a clean hike in the name of averting hitting the debt limit and Reid would probably accept it even though it doesn’t end the shutdown and would raise the ceiling for a much shorter term than he’d like. (Last week he introduced a bill to raise the debt limit for a full year. It failed in the Senate.) A four-month debt-ceiling raise, which would be right in line with the emerging Reid/McConnell bill, presumably could pass relatively easily. Boehner could even sell it to conservatives as a victory in the sense that he’d preserved their ObamaCare leverage by refusing to end the shutdown. That deal would have a shot at being rubber-stamped by both chambers before the Thursday debt-ceiling deadline. The current deal probably doesn’t, which means we’re likely to find out what happens when the debt ceiling is reached.
Update: Like I was saying, no deal:
WH calls House GOP latest a "partisan attempt to appease a small group of Tea Party R's who forced the govt shutdown in the 1st place"
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) October 15, 2013
Update: Note the timeline — and the reference to members on “both sides.” Au revoir, Hastert Rule?
NOW – SpkBoehner says: "We're talking with Members on both sides of the aisle to try to find a way to move forward TODAY."
— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) October 15, 2013
So WaPo reporting the Boehner proposal might not have been able to get 217 votes. Wowza.
— The Fix (@TheFix) October 15, 2013
As I write this, Reid is on the Senate floor dumping on the House proposal, which appears to be DOA even in the House — in its current form. Might be a clean debt-ceiling hike or nothing now.
Update: Here’s the big tweak that’s going to get Boehner to 218:
What's in the works now: adding FULL Vitter language to House plan, prob only way to get 218+
— Robert Costa (@robertcostaNRO) October 15, 2013
In other words, the House bill as modified will be even less palatable to the Senate. All both sides are doing now is killing time when there’s not much time left.
Update: CNN is also hearing that Boehner doesn’t have the votes for his own proposal right now.