By sabotaging their own vote on Plan B, House Republicans blew up John Boehner’s attempt to provide them political cover on issue of the fiscal cliff.
The Republican House leadership spent all of yesterday organizing an elaborate PR stunt on the floor that was designed to shift political pressure from them back to President Obama. All afternoon members of their caucus took to the floor to explain why the country should cut entitlements and give millionaires another tax cut.
Speaker Boehner promised for two days that he had the votes to pass Plan B. On Wednesday Boehner said, “Tomorrow, the House will pass legislation to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American – 99.81 percent of the American people. Then the president will have a decision to make: He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.The day before the vote Majority Leader Eric Cantor was so confident that he also went before the cameras and promised that House Republicans had the votes.” They thought they had the votes for passage until the final whip counts showed that they didn’t.
While the focus is on what happened, there is a larger point here that people are missing.
A group of House Republicans have now made it certain that if the country goes off the fiscal cliff, their party will be blamed. Everyone except for a group House ideologues knew that Plan B was dead in the water. The vote was a symbolic publicity stunt that was supposed to put the heat back on the president. This was Boehner’s volley in the game of political ping pong on the fiscal cliff.
The vote was also supposed to give Republicans the political cover they needed in order to blame the White House if a deal wasn’t reached. This was political gamesmanship 101.
When enough House Republicans rebelled to prevent passage, it not only made Boehner look bad, but they did the one thing that their caucus leadership was desperately trying to avoid.
These Republicans have now made certain that the nation will blame their entire party if taxes go up and programs are cut for every American. The PR battle that Republicans were already losing has turned into a self inflicted crushing defeat. The GOP no longer has a leg to stand on.
A group of House Republicans were unable to see the forest through the trees, and now they will be irrelevant to the rest of the fiscal cliff process. John Boehner was trying to protect his caucus, but they were too stupid to see that. Instead, Boehner was taken out by his party’s own ideological suicide bomb.