If Boehner prioritizes blame over success

The House went through the motions earlier this week, passing a radical “Cut, Cap, and Balance” debt-reduction plan that Republicans knew would fail. They did this as a sort of vanity exercise, intended to make GOP lawmakers and their activist base feel better about themselves.

But as House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) effectively admitted, even before the vote on CC&B, his caucus needed to just get this bill out of its system before more meaningful work could proceed.

The hope was that Boehner & Co. would be more amenable to a compromise, knowing that a failure would lead to a catastrophe. There’s a real threat, however, that the House will simply choose to avoid blame, not to address the crisis of their own making.

House Speaker John Boehner says the short-term measure he plans to announce Sunday to avert a debt limit crisis may not get support from Democratic leaders, but he’ll push forward even without such backing.

“The preferable path would be a bipartisan plan that involves all of the leaders, but it’s too early to decide whether that’s possible,” Boehner said on “Fox News Sunday.” “If that’s not possible, I and my Republican colleagues are prepared to move on our own.”

Boehner said his plan would be based on the House Republicans’ Cap, Cut and Balance plan that cleared the House but was rejected in the Senate.

This is critically important. What Boehner is describing is a path that makes his caucus happy. What about the 60+ House Republicans who don’t want to raise the debt ceiling under any circumstances? And the need to pick up dozens of House Democratic votes? Boehner is thinking about a plan based on CC&B that would get enough Republican votes to pass, whether Dems like it or not.

There’s a Democratic Senate and a Democratic White House, but there’s a real possibility that House Republicans don’t care. Here’s how this would work: Boehner would reject all efforts to find a practical solution, pass a plan his caucus likes, and then announce that he’s done. “The House passed a bill,” the Speaker will say. “Whether the Senate approves it is up to them, but if they don’t, the crisis will be Democrats’ fault, not Republicans’.”

Boehner’s comments this morning — “I and my Republican colleagues are prepared to move on our own” — sounded a lot like a House leader who’s not even interested in finding a solution at all. His goal is likely to avoid blame, not to resolve the problem.

In other words, Boehner sees the car headed for the cliff, and appears ready to put a brick on the accelerator.