Via Mediaite. In fairness, that’s not necessarily her opinion: She’s citing a survey of the group’s members in which 74.1 percent said “yes” or “maybe” to the question of whether the House needs a new Speaker. For a full-throated “Boehner must go” cry from a TP leader, you’ll have to turn to Tea Party Nation chief Judson Phillips instead. Quote: “We need a Speaker who is a leader. We need someone with courage and vision. Boehner has none of those qualities.” And yet, today’s tea-party rally on the Hill was small; tea-party heroes like Allen West and (maybe) Mike Pence are rallying the freshmen to Boehner’s side; and even stalwart Paul Broun — who called for lowering the debt ceiling to reduce spending — dismisses the idea that Boehner’s speakership is in danger. What happened to tea power? Has it simply been overwhelmed in this case by fears over hitting the ceiling?
Underpants Gnome debt plan:
Phase 1: Defeat Boehner;
Phase 2: ???;
Phase 3: Cut, Cap, Balance!
Yeah, I’m confused by Phase 2 also. What’s the scenario by which Barack Obama and Harry Reid magically become fiscal conservatives and lead the Democrats to adopt CCB? The thinking, I assume, is that if we hit the ceiling and the economy tanks, the left will have a panic attack and agree to pass CCB simply because it’s the only thing, supposedly, that can pass the House. But that assumes Democrats will agree to anything to raise the ceiling. They won’t. If you disagree, why not add the repeal of ObamaCare to the list of GOP demands? Why not add the privatization of Social Security? I hate to intrude with a bit of bracing political reality but Obama and Reid have to appease their base too. Giving the tea party everything it wants is the opposite of that, for which they’d pay a terrible electoral price. And since this fiasco is, after all, about nothing more than electoral politics on the Democratic side, that makes CCB an instant nonstarter.
But, just to play this thought out, let’s say we hit the ceiling without a deal. Supposedly the pressure would now be on Senate Democrats to pass CCB to end the crisis. How does Reid get out of that jam? Pretty easily, actually: He could “cave” to the GOP by belatedly agreeing to Boehner’s bill, which would shift the pressure to end the crisis back to House Republicans to approve their own leader’s plan. Better yet, he could propose some sort of joint bill merging his plan and Boehner’s (which wouldn’t be hard) and then let the liberal media go to work in selling his “statesmanlike compromise” versus the House GOP’s “hardline” position. But wait, you say, this only proves that Boehner never should have offered a bill! If he’d stuck by CCB as the only option — which, per the above, would all but guarantee hitting the ceiling — there wouldn’t be any squishy Republican plan for Reid to exploit after the deadline. In that case, the Democrats would have turned around and offered a new plan (they’d call it “The People’s Plan” or something similarly tedious) incorporating a few trillion in cuts a la Reid’s current bill plus a few hundred billion in new revenues. Scoff if you like, but Obama’s endless droning about a “balanced” approach does have traction in the polls: Remember this recent eye-popper from Gallup showing that just 26 percent of Republicans favor a cuts-only approach? Once they did that, all they’d have to do is dig in, push their position as the “reasonable” one that does the people’s bidding, and then wait for public/market panic to pressure the GOP into compromising with them on some scaled-down Reid/Boehner cuts-only approach that can grudgingly pass both houses.
The only glimmer of hope CCB has right now, I think, would be if S&P declared, as a matter of absolute certainty, that passage of either the Reid or Boehner plan will result in a downgrade of U.S. securities whereas passage of CCB will let America stay AAA. They’re not going to do that, though, partly because I suspect they don’t want to spook world markets any more than is necessary and partly because it may turn out that no one cares, which would be a huge blow to their prestige. In fact, as Veronique de Rugy points out, for a group of people who are supposedly so worried about a downgrade, Obama and Congress sure haven’t done much with entitlements to make sure we avert it. Their plan/hope, I think, is simply to do something modest now and trust that S&P doesn’t have the stones to actually downgrade the United States. And if it does, then Boehner’s short-term two-phase will be optimally timed to force that issue: We’ll have to revisit this issue early next year, with an election impending, and now with an AA rating tossed in the mix to, shall we say, concentrate the mind. I’d like to think Democrats would want to immediately revisit the debt in the wake of an AA even if Boehner’s bill doesn’t pass, but hey — they’re Democrats.
I’ll leave you with Keith Hennessy’s rundown of the latest version of Boehner’s bill, of which he says, “Without too much trouble you can see the conceptual outline of ‘Cut, Cap, and Balance’ within this bill.” Here’s the clip; note the answer to the question of whether tea partiers are inadvertently helping Obama get reelected.