Thursday, June 30, 2011

Boehner on the ropes

This is why BooMan is one of the sharpest political writers on the blogs.

On this whole debt limit deal, the White House seems to be supremely confident that they'll get something done and that it will be the Republicans who will blink. That's not to say that there won't be some ugly concessions made, but when it comes to facing their respective bases of political support, it's the Congressional Republican leadership who will be getting the worst beating.

The reasons are fairly simple. John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are not teabaggers, and the people they answer to want no part of a default, or even the threat of a default. Moreover, the White House feels that they've framed this extremely well and the Republicans have screwed themselves by pushing the Ryan plan, and by walking away from table in support of tax loopholes for multimillionaires' yachts and private airplanes. In short, the White House thinks the Republicans have an awful political argument and that they know it. Finally, and crucially, John Boehner has an incredibly difficult task. He must get a bill passed in the House that can also pass in the Senate, which is still controlled by the Democrats. Everyone knows that Boehner can't do this by relying on his own caucus. And he won't be able to attract any Democrats for anything remotely resembling what he's led his base to expect. To even get a bill on the table, he's going to have to back down and craft something widely acceptable to Democrats. It's not unlikely that he'll wind up in a bind where he actually pushes a bill that has more Democratic support than Republican.

And I don't think the White House plans on giving him a whole lot. Maybe some cost savings on Medicare, but no reduction in benefits. Certainly not a balanced budget amendment. And there will be an elimination of significant tax loopholes.

The thing I am still worried about is that Boehner won't be able to figure out how to get this done. It's basically a suicide mission, as I can't imagine him surviving in a leadership position if he passes a Democratic-majority debt limit bill. But it doesn't appear he has any other choice. The White House just isn't buying his threats. They know his masters expect a deal, and soon.

You see what he did here? Instead of weeping and wailing about how President Obama might sell us down the river, he focused on the completely untenable position Speaker Boehner is in. The "masters" he's referring to in that last sentence are Wall Street financiers, who will not tolerate a failure to raise the debt ceiling - and have told Boehner so.

Boehner rode into power in 2010 with the wind of nutcases in his sails and now is petrified of what they might do to him if he bucks their agenda. On the other hand, the people he's financially dependent on need some rational leadership on this issue. Its the quintessential "rock and a hard place."

As for President Obama's strategy - have we not seen this over and over again? He's let the Speaker hang himself with all of this and yesterday in his press conference stepped in as "the only adult in the room" to turn up the heat. Knowing where Wall Street stands on this, he's been confident that he has the power play and now Boehner is cornered.

The professional left has been so focused on how Obama might betray them that they have totally missed the vice that was forming around Boehner's position. Its the classic mistake of people who are addicted to casting themselves as victims.


  1. This is brilliant. And yes, professional victims do spend all their time looking out for ways they might become victimized and when they don't find anything, they make stuff up. Remember the whole Obama's gonna cut Social Security scam?

  2. Thanks Tien Le.

    What I find is that people get so caught up in their own point of view that they fail to see the vulnerabilities in the opposition.

    Its pretty impossible to strategize effectively if you can't do that.