Good News and Bad News on the Debt-Ceiling Front

The good news: Congressional Tea Partiers’ refusal to yield to the institutional realities of the U.S. legislative process is about to lead them to vote away their bargaining chip on the debt ceiling. From Brain Beutler of Talking Points Memo,

“One of the most influential conservatives in Congress says he’s confident his own Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will lack the votes to pass his plan to raise the debt limit in the House of Representatives.

“Complicating matters further for Boehner — the Dems’ top vote counter wryly suggested at a simultaneous press briefing that few, if any, Democrats will vote for the GOP’s bill, since there is a preferable Democratic plan waiting in the wings. That suggests House conservatives are holding the line against any debt limit increase that can plausibly pass the Senate — and that Democrats will have added leverage to muscle their own plan through both chambers.”

The bad news: The plan which Senate Democrats hope to “muscle through both chambers” (and which, I’m now confident, Obama will sign before August 2nd) is going to consist only of spending cuts, raising no new revenues. It’s a plan, in other words, to the right of the median Republican voter. Rather than accepting the Senate plan, the House GOP could actually have countered with another arrangement yet further to the right in order to force a Conference Committee “compromise” even less favorable to Democrats, but because the Tea Party freshmen want the impossible (including a disastrous and unpassable balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution), they’re about to vote this GOP plan down and leave the Senate plan as the only viable option.

So I’m choosing to enjoy what smug satisfaction I can muster over the Tea Party’s impending act of remarkable political stupidity, and the slightly less horrendous resolution it will finally permit to this House-manufactured crisis.

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