Friday, December 21, 2012

Can Harry Reid Fill House GOP "Leadership Void"?

Jeez. What else can I say now? We knew this was coming. And now, it's happened.

And House Speaker John Boehner (R-FAIL) has probably just achieved his greatest EPIC FAIL ever!

Even after larding up his Plan B bill with lots of goodies, John Boehner apparently couldn't get his Republican caucus to support it. So he's now pulled the bill and adjourned the House, promising only to return after Christmas "when needed."

This is truly an epic fail. Boehner couldn't even get a piece of obvious political theater passed. He's completely unable to control the lunatic wing of his own party. So what's next?

One possibility is that this makes falling off the fiscal cliff much more likely. If the loonies won't even vote for Plan B, what are the odds they'll vote for a compromise bill along the lines that President Obama has offered? A second possibility—and I honestly don't know how likely this is—is that Boehner now knows he can't get the tea partiers to vote for anything, so he'll give up on the idea of bringing them into the fold. Instead of trying to craft a bill that can get 218 Republican votes, he'll round up fifty or a hundred of the non-crazies and pass a compromise bill along with 150 Democrats. On this reading, today's failure actually makes a fiscal cliff compromise more likely.

So now, we don't even know if John Boehner will remain Speaker in the new Congress. And we're now wondering if "The Fiscal Cliff" can be averted... And if not, then what happens in that first week of the new year.

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Here's what we know for sure. Boehner has effectively become politically neutered by scuttling negotiations with The White House, failing to advance his own tax plan (even as he larded it up with "tea party" wet dreams!), and losing the backing of his own party. President Obama will have to rethink his next steps in negotiations with Congress. Oh, and as we've been saying all along, the REAL power on the Congressional side now lies with Harry Reid.

“Everybody’s talked about Boehner and Obama cutting this deal, but Harry Reid’s the third man,” said Eric Herzik, a UNR political scientist. “And Reid’s advantage is, he can deliver votes.”

Reid and Boehner have been locked in a protracted arm-wrestling contest over fiscal policy for the past two years. For that entire duration, the crux of their policy war has been a dispute between the role of tax revenues versus spending cuts in enhancing economic solvency and deficit reduction.

But this week, that became a war within the Republican Party. [...]

“Reid’s strengthened because he doesn’t have to spend any political capital; this is just Obama and Boehner,” Herzik said. “Harry Reid can call a news conference and criticize folks, but has he had to do any heavy lifting so far? No ... he gets to enter the next round completely fresh.”

Again, as we've been saying all along, Harry Reid has the ultimate "Ace in the Hole" now. He is the only one on Capitol Hill who can round up votes. And with Boehner pushed aside, Obama and Reid can now bring in House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to round up enough Democrats in both chambers, along with however many rational Republicans left, to reach a final accord.

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And now, accord is needed now more than ever before. All eyes will be on DC as we await a solution. Because if we go "Off the Cliff", the economic ramifications will not be pretty. Republicans threw America into what was supposed to be an "artificial crisis" by playing petty political games with America's full faith & credit. But now, Republican incompetence combined with pure teabagger insanity are turning this "artificial crisis" into a real one. And as they just walk away, they're forcing Obama & Reid to fill "the leadership void" and take action to save our economy.

Wow. What a week this has been. Happy Holidays?

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