Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Republican Plan B: let the lunatics have their tantrum

Thanks to Ryan Lizza's excellent reporting, we now know the basics of Republican Plan A. This version dates back to the summer of 2011 when they took the American economy hostage over raising the debt ceiling and Speaker Boehner was negotiating a deal with President Obama.
Cantor told me that it was a "fair assessment" that he talked Boehner out of accepting Obama's deal. He said he told Boehner that it would be better, instead, to take the issues of taxes and spending to the voters and "have it out" with the Democrats in the election. Why give Obama an enormous political victory, and potentially help him win re-election, when they might be able to negotiate a more favorable deal with a new Republican President? Boehner told Obama there was no deal. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet.

The bet failed spectacularly.
The fact that the plan consisted of total obstruction - hoping that would give them a win in 2012 - comes as no surprise to much of anyone who was actually paying attention. And yes, it "failed spectacularly."

We now can begin to see the outlines of Plan B. It happened over the so-called "fiscal cliff" and raising the debt ceiling. And if TPM reporting is accurate, its about to happen over the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
The original plan was for the Republican majority in the House to pass its version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and then go to conference conference committee with the Senate. The Senate has already overwhelmingly passed a more aggressive bill, with protections for LGBT, Native American and undocumented women that have been at the heart of the dispute with House Republicans.

But all that changed Tuesday night. The Rules Committee instead sent the House GOP’s version of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor with a key caveat: if that legislation fails, then the Senate-passed version will get an up-or-down vote.

The big admission implicit in this latest move is that House GOP leaders don’t believe they have the votes to pass their version of the bill but that the Senate version is likely to pass the chamber. So this way they’ll give House conservatives the first bite at the apple as a way of saving face and still resolve an issue that has hurt them politically.
So Plan B basically comes down to letting the lunatics in their caucus have their tantrum...and then caving. The truth is that as loud as the lunatics are, they don't have a majority in the House. Despite partisan lines, the majority is now held by a coalition of Democrats and sane Republicans. Nothing is going to pass the House without that coalition's support. And so we should all hold a funeral service for the Hastert Rule.

When we apply Plan B to the sequester, we can see that what Speaker Boehner is doing right now is letting the lunatics have their tantrum. The question - as Jonathan Chait points out - is "then what?"
At this point, the question becomes what kind of peace they try to get. Do they try to replace sequestration by taking a version of Obama’s tax-deductions-for-entitlement-cuts offer? Or do they just try to get rid of sequestration and pretend to replace it, but come up with some kind of phony mechanism — future longer-term cuts, commissions, vague formulas — in an attempt to save the Pentagon budget without making the richies cough up any more taxes?
Right now I'd put my money on the latter.


  1. Meanwhile the Democrats are having a field day raising money using scare tactic emails showing us how the Sequester is going to affect our lives.

    This is why your blog is my first stop for news. I love the way you put all the pieces together in a coherent fashion that has historical context and spot on speculation. You are my hero.

  2. Smartypants, you are like an Olympic level athlete when it comes to political analysis. You make it look easy.

    After reading your pieces it seems obvious that your are correct (or, at least, far more correct then the usual suspects in the mainstream media and the hair-on-fire blogosphere).

  3. Between federal, state, local and property taxes I pay about half my income in various taxes. Isn't that enough?

    1. What do your taxes have to do with anything?

    2. You post a quote from Chait suggesting the "richies" should pay more in taxes. I think I already pay a ton.

    3. Oh, so you're a "richie." If that's true, you must have a really lousy accountant to be paying half of your income in taxes. In any case, you probably don't have anything to worry about from Obama since he's talking about closing loopholes you obviously aren't taking advantage of anyway.

    4. I certainly don't feel rich. I work 80 hours a week and live in the same house for the last 20 years and drive a beat up 15 year old car. Just someone whose majority of income is wages as opposed to capital gains or investment income, which isn't atypical. I have a good accountant so please tell me what loopholes I have not been taking advantage of. If you call mortgage interest, charitable deductions, owning municipal bonds and paying state/local taxes "loopholes" then yes I am taking advantage of them. But even before those potential reforms kick in, my effective federal tax rate last year was 28%, plus paying 10% at the state level plus another 6% in town/school/property taxes and then throw in Medicare and social security taxes and it's close to 50% all-in.

    5. Well you're not a "richie." Since you aren't and don't use more than the standard deductions, you have nothing to worry about from what Obama is proposing. See how easy that was?