House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told reporters this morning that the right-wing “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan is, in fact, “balanced,” just as President Obama requested. And how is it balanced? It’s simple: Republicans would gut public investments, slash Social Security and Medicare, and impose structural reforms that would make it impossible for the United States to compete for at least a generation. In exchange, GOP officials would raise the debt ceiling.
See? Boehner said. It’s “a balanced plan.”
The Speaker’s confusion notwithstanding, the more pressing point is what his chamber is capable of. Boehner boasted that “Cut, Cap, and Balance” appears to have majority support in the House, so that’s what the chamber will waste valuable time on today. But what comes next? “I do think,” the Speaker added, “it’s responsible for us to look at what Plan B would look like.”
At this point in the process, the number of scenarios is pretty limited. The House could (a) simply refuse to do their duty and cause a disaster on purpose; (b) learn to live with a compromise that raises revenues; or (c) grudgingly accept the McConnell/Reid plan.
The first scenario is one to avoid. The second appears to be impossible. But what about the third? When push comes to shove, can the House live with McConnell/Reid? Greg Sargent has a smart post on this.
Late yesterday GOP Rep. Joe Walsh, who is backed by the Tea Party, began circulating a letter among GOP colleagues that urges GOP leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor to publicly oppose the McConnell plan and even to oppose it coming to the floor for a vote.
A Senate Republican aide tells me that GOP aides will be closely watching the number of signatures it amasses in order to gauge whether the McConnell proposal can get through the House.
Walsh wants more than 100 signatures; Senate Republicans hope it gets no more than 50. If Walsh gets his wish, the likelihood of the entire process collapsing increases a great deal.
For what it’s worth, the number of House Republicans making a lot of noise about killing the McConnell/Reid compromise is actually pretty small. At this point, the right is focused on the theatrics surrounding “Cut, Cap, and Balance,” and hasn’t categorically ruled out the Senate plan, which of course, has not yet even been presented in any detail.
But that’s what makes Walsh’s effort all the more important. If he struggles to garner signatures, the Senate’s Plan B will become the way out of this mess. If Walsh rallies the right-wing troops, the Obama administration may have to reconsider that “constitutional option” the president isn’t inclined to pursue.