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After the Republicans shamefully torpedoed ratification of the UN treaty Convention On Persons With Disabilities in the U.S. Senate yesterday, Harry Reid question the GOP's capacity for rationality, in the so called "fiscal cliff" negotiations.

"Consider yesterday's failure, the disabilities convention, at the hands of the Tea Party," Reid said on the Senate floor. "This shouldn't have been a battle, but extreme elements of the Republican Party picked a fight where there was nothing to fight about." ...

"This treaty, already ratified by 125 countries, would hold foreign nations to the same high standard of treatment the U.S. already maintains for people with disabilities," Reid said. "And it would safeguard American citizens traveling, working and serving abroad."

"These are the same Republicans with whom Democrats are supposed to reach an agreement to protect middle-class families from a tax increase," Reid said. "It’s difficult to engage in rational negotiation when one side holds well-known facts and proven truths in such low esteem." ...

“I still believe there are 26 reasonable Republicans willing to put their promise to serve constituents ahead of their pledge to Grover Norquist," Reid said, referring the the leader of the anti-tax group, Americans for Tax Reform.

Senator Chuck Schumer (D=NY) thinks many Republicans would be willing to vote for the Democratic middle class tax bill if House Speaker John Boehner would let them take the vote, saying "[t]he House Republican leadership are like generals hunkered away in a bunker unaware that their troops have already laid down arms."

Speaking of the possibility that the GOP make not have the rational capacity to negotiate a resolution to the fiscal cliff issues, let me briefly mention the latest rumor from capital hill with regard to what has been called the GOP Doomsday Scenario, which I've reported here twice, previously, (see archives,) and which I am writing up a longer post on, "even as we speak."

Late last night I read a rumor reported on ABC News entitled Republican Doomsday Plan: Cave on Taxes, Vote ‘Present.’

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely.  It’s quite simple:  House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more:  no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes.  Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling. ...

As part of the deal to allow the House vote on taxes, those automatic defense cuts could be put off for a year.

So, the most plausible political expectation at this point will be a "two-step" punt. Get the middle-class tax cuts out of the way before the holidays, and take the rest up in the next year.

Please note how this matches up with President Obama's saying there isn't enough time to negotiate all these issues but we need to make a "down payment."

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