Boehner's Bluff

Just when it looked like there might be some movement towards a fiscal cliff deal, with the President and Speaker engaging in a good negotiating give and take, the Speaker has once again blanched, threatening to go with “plan B”. This so called Plan B would have the Speaker bringing legislation to the floor that would lift tax rates for those making $1 million and above to 39.6%, and leaving all other rates constant.

The Speaker, in letting out the existence of plan B, has said it might include the patch for the Alternative Minimum Tax, and an estate tax change. But the idea is to throw the ball into the Senate with the clock running out, and then blame Democrats for going over the cliff. The Politico story focused on this dynamic, with an emphasis on Plan B being dead on arrival in the Senate. But unless Boehner has more Republican votes than I think he has unanimous Democratic opposition in the House should, when coupled with Republican opponents to any tax hikes, be sufficient to defeat the Speaker in his own House.

My analysis will be dead wrong if the Speaker has imposed Party discipline on his caucus, and can deliver the entire bloc for a tax raising bill. If he takes a mere 27 defections and the Democrats hold strong he will end up with a lot of egg on his face, even if he pulls the bill in advance of a vote. If Nancy Pelosi can hold the fort within her own Party then the Democrats should start clamoring for this bill to hit the floor. The Club for Growth has started hitting the Speaker already.

“First Speaker Boehner offered to raise tax rates after promising not to, and now he’s offering to raise the debt ceiling. Raising tax rates is anti-growth and raising the debt ceiling is pro-government growth – and this is the Republican position?” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola.

Lets see if the Speaker can deliver 218 Republican votes for Plan B. I say put him to the test now. Maybe he can get Mitch McConnell to come over and filibuster it. (Oh darn they don’t have filibusters in the House of Representatives)

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