Oh well: Boehner's "Plan B" likely already DOA in the Senate

The word this afternoon was that Democrats would block it. According to Robert Costa’s GOP sources, they’re not bluffing.

“Harry Reid will happily blow this up, and the president won’t accept Boehner’s terms,” predicts a GOP senator. “If this is the end of the game, then we’re going over the cliff.”

Two more Republican senators agree, and say that Boehner’s proposal is more of a political Hail Mary than a realistic option.

The conservatives, for their part, don’t like the proposal’s inclusion of high-income tax-rate increases, and the moderates don’t like the timing. “It should have come sooner,” a centrist Republican senator says. “Now, it may be too late.”…

“I doubt this is going to be the final plan,” a Senate GOP staffer says. “Democrats aren’t going to accept this, and they’ll push Boehner back on what he wants.”

National Journal notes Obama and Boehner aren’t that far apart numbers-wise, but if that’s true and a deal’s in the offing, then what’s up with Plan B? Is Boehner trying to squeeze a few more concessions from O on a deal by putting him on the spot with a pretend take-it-or-leave-it millionaire tax or is this really his way of saying “to hell with it” and walking away? Either way, I’m curious to see how many House conservatives vote against it when the bill comes to the floor on grounds that it doesn’t extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone. Pelosi and Hoyer are vowing to whip against it despite the fact that Pelosi herself once endorsed a bill like this for the same sort of PR reasons that are now motivating Boehner. Assuming the entire Democratic caucus votes no, he can afford to lose 16 Republicans and no more. If he does, the bill fails and he’ll be roundly humiliated. In fact, now that I think about it, I wonder if Republicans are pushing the idea that the bill’s DOA in part because it gives Boehner an excuse to withdraw the idea before it ever hits the House floor. That would be less embarrassing than putting it to a vote and having it fail due to conservative defections.

So what now? Boehner could turn up the heat on O even further by dropping the threshold for new taxes from millionaires to households that earn more than $400,000 a year. That was the cut-off that Obama himself proposed yesterday, remember; he’d be giving O exactly what he asked for and then daring him to veto it or the Democrats to block it. He could even hold a splashy “you win” presser before skipping town for Christmas, denouncing the bill as a piece of crap that’ll hurt the economy but one which the House feels obliged to pass because it’s the only way to stop Obama from forcing the country over the cliff. If Democrats respond by refusing to take yes for an answer and blocking the bill, then the economic chaos when we fall off the cliff is entirely on them. Would the promise of making Obama squirm — and still having the prospect of a debt-ceiling standoff in the spring — make this more acceptable to House conservatives despite the lower income threshold for the new tax rates? If not and the bill fails, they’re only going to pass something similar to it in January after we’re over the cliff and people are running around screaming. (As always, the polls are brutal.) Might as well do it now and regroup for the big debt-ceiling fight.

Or, maybe we should follow Drew’s advice by letting the Democrats propose anything they want, voting present en masse so that they can pass it, and then letting the public reap what they’ve sowed economically until they learn better. Exit question: Second look at “let it burn”?

Update: Hmmmm.

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