Politics Magazine

Boehner Unable To Herd His GOP "Cats"

Posted on the 21 December 2012 by Jobsanger
Speaker Boehner thought he had come up with a plan to put pressure on the president. He called it his "plan B". It would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for only the richest Americans -- those making more than $1,000,000 a year. In addition, it would be paid for by cuts to discretionary spending. But since he knew his cohorts in the House would not stand for cuts to the bloated military budget, he did away with those cuts and replaced them with even deeper cuts to programs like Food Stamps and Meals on Wheels (which provides nutritious hot meals for the elderly who are unable to cook for themselves).
It was a rather hard-hearted approach to cutting government spending, but then "hard-hearted" has never been a deal-breaker for the Republicans, especially since it protected two things they absolutely love -- military spending and subsidies for corporations. Boehner divided up his Plan B proposal into two separate bills -- one for the cuts to spending and one for the taxes. He was able to barely pass the cuts 215 to 209, with no Democratic votes and 21 Republicans also voting "no".  But he ran into serious problems when he tried to pass the tax portion of the package.
It was already known that the ridiculous Plan B tax proposal would not get any Democratic votes, and you can see why by looking at the chart above. The ridiculous tax proposal would not just raise taxes on those making more than $1 million a year. It would also raise taxes on those making under $200,000 a year, which is most American workers (thanks to the elimination of some deductions). That meant Boehner needed to get at least 213 of his colleagues to vote for his plan, or it would fail.
And after spending most of the day trying to convince Republicans to vote for the measure, Boehner finally cancelled the vote on the second part of his Plan B. It seems he could not get enough Republicans to vote for it, and it was going to go down in flames. He decided it would be better to just withdraw it rather than be embarrassed by a defeat. Too many Republicans just could not bring themselves to vote for taxing millionaires a little bit more.
This very likely means there will be no deal on the "fiscal cliff" before the year ends. Since his power-play failed spectacularly, Boehner is left with nothing to do except surrender to Obama's demands -- and he cannot do that until after the end of the year when all the Bush tax cuts expire (and he is forced to go along with Obama or risk the ire of nearly all Americans). The House has now recessed. It could come back after christmas, but probably won't since it is doubtful that Boehner could herd his GOP cats any better then than he could yesterday.
As for the mean-spirited cuts that did pass yesterday, they are as good as dead. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called that bill a non-starter. It has about as much of a chance of passing the Senate as a snowball does of surviving a whole summer in the Mojave Desert.
This is a huge failure for Speaker Boehner. It not only weakens his negotiating position with the president, but it could even call into question whether he can sustain his tenure as Speaker of the House. It will be interesting to see what happens when the new Congress meets in January.

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