Or, rather, over the light downhill slope.
Minutes ago, Boehner called off the vote on 'Plan B'. What this means is that a Republican fantasy proposal, far to the right of anything that the most conservative Democrat might accept, couldn't get a majority of the House, because too many Republicans are still unwilling to vote for any tax increase at all, ever ever ever. Even preserving the tax cuts on the first $1 million is not enough for them.
What this means is that a deal before Jan. 1 is now impossible. If Boehner couldn't get a majority for that, he can't get a majority for anything.
So what happens now?
The worst thing that could happen now would be for Democrats to keep trying to keep negotiations alive to make a deal. As we see from this vote, it's simply not possible. There will not be a Republican House majority for anything less than total surrender by the Democrats, meaning preserving every dime of the Bush tax cuts. Instead, the president needs to start preparing the public and the markets, and communicate several points:
First, there will be no deal by January 1.
Second, that's OK. The House and Senate have time to act before most Americans receive their first paycheck, and can easily reinstate the Bush tax cuts on the first $250K of every American's income, retroactive to January 1. Previous offers to increase the amount were made in the hope of attracting Republican concessions, and since none were offered, those offers are withdrawn.
Third, about the sequester: attempts to give the Pentagon all its money back and to take it out on the most vulnerable will not fly. Yes, defense cuts will cost some jobs, but severe cuts elsewhere will cost even more jobs, and we are spending far more than our enemies are.
Fourth, about the debt limit: the debt limit is not something that Republicans can trade for any concession. Republicans have already approved spending that will put us over the debt limit soon, they voted for it last year. The House and Senate must pass a debt limit increase by the deadline, period. This is not the president wanting to borrow money; Congress has already approved deficit spending.