So, the leaders of both parties in both Houses of Congress and president have come up with a plan. It is probably good enough for Minority Leader Pelosi to strong arm the 90-100 votes that are being promised to the Republicans on this.
The question is, can Speaker Boehner really deliver the other 116 -126 votes need to really get it through. Chuck Todd has been on MSNBC insisting that there are still Moderate Republicans in the House, the Tuesday Group. I have my doubts that they would fall into the category of moderate on any scale that did not include the Tea Party extremists, but lets give him the benefit of the doubt.
There are 40 or so of these “moderates”. And there are about 30 Republican Representatives who have said they would not vote to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstance. That leave about 170 of whom 84, nearly half, have to vote for this plan (assuming the numbers of Democrats who will vote for this is accurate.)
Todd has been calling these people “Institutional” Republicans, meaning that they have been around, they know how Washington works and will bend when they are getting 90-95% of everything they want. This is real common CW but is it accurate in this particular time and place?
It should be, but here is the thing. The Tea Party Republicans have shown that they are not above trying to take down anyone who is insufficiently conservative in their judgment. It is what has made them a real power in the Republican Party. They have ousted, in primaries or the threat of primaries, big name Senators and even some sitting House members.
Every single Representative will be on the ticket in 2012. It is not like the Senate where only 1/3 has to run in any cycle. If these “Institutional” Republicans vote for a plan that is not 100% of what the Tea Party wants, if it is not punitive enough to the poor and the elderly, if it does not undercut the social safety net enough, where does that leave them with their base?
Are there 86 Republicans that are so secure in the districts that they will vote for this plan? I don’t know. Put yourself in their shoes. The Club for Growth came out against the Boehner Cut Cap and Balance –Lite plan. They have actually been lobbying for the bumper-fun sized version of that moronic plan.
The (Hair) Club for Growth has been known to run (and fund) far right primary candidates for Republicans who they think are weak on their issues. They often get the nomination but lose the election. Knowing that they are out there saying “Stand strong or Else!” has to give any Republican pause, especially those in ultra-safe House seats, since the primary is effectively the election.
What kind of cover can the Speaker offer for that? Or the RNC for that matter? Given the mood in the Republican Party base and their willingness (you might even say eagerness) to do route out the “traitors” to their agenda, is there any cover that is enough?
Which leaves the Speaker hoping for the patriotism and self-sacrifice that has been wholly missing in the Republican caucus to save him and the nation. The problem here is that self sacrifice and patriotism have not exactly been on display in the Republican Party since…. Oh…the 111th Congress or maybe even longer.
To count on something that has fallen out of habit, by people who have been willing to hold the nation’s finances hostage for political gain does not seem like a very good idea to me. Conventional Wisdom says that there will be enough of them. The thing is, does this particular period of US governmental history seem exceptionally normal to anyone?
It doesn’t to me either.
What will prevail in the end? Fear or patriotism? Do 86 Republicans in Congress really have the conviction to put their careers on the line to prevent a default, or will the party of “Me First!” take us over the cliff because they selected for that very trait far to successfully?
The floor is yours.