Inside the Plan B meltdown

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Ed Morrissey @ Hot Air:

NRO’s Robert Costa was on the Hill last night, watching as disaster unfolded for John Boehner on the House floor. All day long, House GOP leadership predicted a close but successful vote in forcing the Senate to reject a plan that raised taxes on millionaires while keeping rates at current levels for everyone else. But when a vote to replace the sequester ended up a lot closer than GOP whips had predicted, Boehner understood that the writing was on the wall for his Plan B political strategy.

When Boehner threw in the towel, though, even his critics in the caucus were stunned:

Boehner’s speech to the group was short and curt: He said his plan didn’t have enough support, and that the House would adjourn until after Christmas, perhaps even later. But it was Boehner’s tone and body language that caught most Republicans off guard. The speaker looked defeated, unhappy, and exhausted after hours of wrangling. He didn’t want to fight. There was no name-calling. As a devout Roman Catholic, Boehner wanted to pray. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” he told the crowd, according to attendees.

There were audible gasps of surprise, especially from freshman lawmakers who didn’t see the meltdown coming. Boehner’s friends were shocked, and voiced their disappointment so the speaker’s foes could hear. “My buddies and I said the same thing to each other,” a Boehner ally told me later. “We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and just groaned. This is a disaster.”

Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a burly former car dealer, stood up and urged the conference to get behind the speaker. “How the hell can you do this?” Kelly asked, according to several people inside the room. A few of Boehner’s critics told Kelly to stop lecturing, but most were silent. They had been battling against “Plan B” all week, and quite suddenly, they had crippled the leadership. Boehner sensed the tension, requested calm, and then exited the room.

It’s not just Boehner allies who may end up regretting the failure:

“I don’t want to talk to the people who ruined this, at least right now,” a retiring House member told me. “They don’t get it.” Another senior member told me that Boehner was always going to struggle with the whip count since most House conservatives have little interest in seeing the speaker strike any kind of deal. “Boehner was trying to play chess and the caucus was playing checkers,” he said, sighing. “Boehner is willing to lose a pawn for a queen. I’m not sure about the rest.”

Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a conservative with libertarian leanings, was stunned. As he walked back to his office, he said the episode was unfortunate, even though he was planning to vote against the measure. For the past month, since House leaders booted him off the budget committee, he has been railing against Boehner for his management style. But even Amash wondered whether the House GOP was making the right move. “Too many people in there were arguing that this thing is a tax increase, and I don’t think that’s what Boehner was trying to do,” he said. As much as he disagrees with Boehner’s approach, even he regretted how the speaker’s plan was killed.

Be sure to read it all. While Boehner came under considerable heat for this strategy, he’s playing a losing hand overall anyway. Plan B wouldn’t have even gotten a Senate vote, but neither will any bill pushed by the conservative wing, either. Plan B would have at least given Republicans some measure of political cover to insist that they weren’t blocking middle-class tax stability, especially since the bill that Boehner pulled would have addressed tax rates separately, as well as the AMT patch.

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Curt served in the Marine Corps for four years and has been a law enforcement officer in Los Angeles for the last 24 years.

2 Responses to “Inside the Plan B meltdown”

  1. 1


    What was plan B? It was a plan to tax millionaires and billionaires with no specific or immediate spending cuts.

    Plan B lost because Harry Reid and Obama did not want to tax just millionaires and billionaires, they want to extend taxes to non-millionaires and non-billionaires.

    At the same time, Plan B lost because House Republicans didn’t see the sense in having a fiscal cliff avoidance bill that contained no spending cuts, only the standard Democrat plan of tax increases now with promises to cut spending some time in the future.

    Our current tax revenue receipts are back to where they were in 2008, yet we are spending over a trillion dollars more each year.

    We can never raise taxes enough to keep up with Democrat spending, look at California.

    Until both sides get serious about reducing the spending, all we will have is greater debt for our children and grandchildren, which will translate into higher taxation and fewer opportunities for them.

  2. 2


    Sorry, RINOs. Sorry, Rep. Boehner. Your day is done.
    We either drastically cut spending or we dissolve as a Nation.
    It is a stark choice.
    If we continue entitlements, we go bankrupt. It is as simple as that.
    If we continue on the current path, we admit that we are slaves of the State, and that the State owns everything. “It takes a village…”. So communism is imposed from the WH.
    This situation cannot endure. Tragedy ensues when you flout the elementary laws espoused by that notable economist, Charles Dickens: “Income £12, expenses £12, nought, and 6: ruin. Income £12, expenses £11, 19s, and 6: joy forever.”
    Alas for our country. Those who cannot do math now rule. We are doomed unless we change.

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