Over at The Plum Line, Greg Sargent has an important post about the way the debt ceiling fight could end without triggering a cash-crunch crisis for the federal government. Greg thinks is could be one of two possibilities.
First, the House GOP could agree to a version of the plan first proposed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that helped solve the last debt ceiling fight in August 2011. That plan effectively transfers the ability to raise the government's borrowing to the president. Greg notes that this time the plan would be approved over the legislative equivalent of McConnell's dead body, that is, over a filibuster McConnell himself would lead. Greg also notes, however, that there may well be enough Senate Republicans willing to join the 55 Democrats to make this happen.
Second, Greg says that the same combination of Democrats and some Republicans in the House that voted for the fiscal cliff deal would likely approve the McConnell plan or a clean debt ceiling increase if the GOP leadership allowed the vote to take place.
Politico had an outstanding but truly bone-chilling story yesterday about how appealing the prospects of a default and a government shutdown may be to House Republicans.
According to the piece by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Jake Sherman, forcing a default by not raising the debt ceiling and shutting down the government by not passing a continuing resolution may be the preferred ways to go by a majority of the House GOP caucus no matter what that would mean to the U.S. economy, the Republican Party's overall approval rating, the GOP's prospects for a Senate majority in 2014 or a Republican winning the White House in 2016.
To those of us who have watched Washington operate for a while, this obviously sounds like totally insane, crazy self-destructive behavior by the House GOP.
But it would be wrong to dismiss it out of hand. From the conversations I've had with Republicans House members and staff since the 2012 election, the threats, are real and make a great deal of political sense no matter how obnoxious and damaging it otherwise would be.
I've been saying for a while that House Speaker John Boehner (OH) has to be worried about a challenge from the right wing of his own party for speaker in the next Congress.
As the story below from Roll Call (subscription needed) shows, he's already running hard.
John Boehner: A Republican House Means No Tax Rate Hikes
The day after Election Day is never a good time to do substantive analysis. The win seems bigger to those who won and those who lost usually are more despondent than the situation warrants.
That's the situation this morning: Democrats are crowing about permanent new demographic shifts in the electorate while the GOP is doing the standard soul searching by those who didn't accomplish what they had hoped.
As far as the federal budget is concerned, this will all change tomorrow when the caffeine induced highs and lows of the election are replaced with the realization that some very big fiscal cliff deadlines are now just seven weeks away.
Here's the situation:
1. At some point very soon -- probably around noon today eastern time -- the mood will change as the House GOP realizes that it is the last bastion when it comes to taxes and spending.
I've come to the conclusion that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is going to have a very difficult time making any deal with the Democrats during the lame duck session on taxes and spending – that is, on preventing the fiscal cliff – and still remain as speaker in the next Congress. That means that avoiding the fiscal cliff will be far harder than any analysis of the situation has dared to conclude.
Yes, this assumes that Republicans will keep the majority in the House next year and, therefore, that the GOP will be picking one of its own as speaker. But just consider what would happen if the following occurs.