One would have thought that the first TARP vote would have given Obama, Geithner, and company pause. But as best as I can tell they sincerely believe that in the final analysis the House Republicans do not want the U.S. defaulting on its debt and S&P downgrading the country, and will reach a deal with the Senate and with Obama.
This seems to me to be a very narrow--and largely unfounded--materialist assessment of what is going on. Steve Benen thinks differently, and raises a possibility I have been fearing since November:
PIf Boehner prioritizes blame over success: 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.