They failed for a variety of reasons, according to interviews. But chief among them was this: They were asking anti-tax conservatives to take a big risk for no discernable reward. Plan B, as Boehner named his alternative to President Barack Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on earnings of $400,000 a year and above, would never become law because the Democratic-controlled Senate would not pass it. Nor was it likely to put pressure on Obama to reach a deal, as Boehner intended.

Indeed, based on interviews with Republican members of Congress and some of their staffers, the wonder is not that Plan B crashed and burned, but that Boehner apparently thought – and announced in advance – that it would fly…

Cole said, dozens of members convinced themselves that Boehner’s bill amounted to a tax hike despite evidence to the contrary.

“Some people really really really really talked themselves into believing it was a tax increase even though Grover Norquist, of all people, said it wasn’t,” said Cole, referring to the anti-tax activist responsible for “the pledge” not to raise taxes that most Republicans sign.

“That is like me talking myself into believing something is a sin even though the Pope tells me it is not,” Cole said.