Breaking Up The House (GOP)
Make no mistake: what Barack Obama did today just before 6 PM Eastern Time was drop a grenade into the middle of the House and Senate GOP caucus. After an afternoon meeting at the White House with the congressional leadership, Obama came out for the cameras and said he would give Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell the weekend to come up with a bipartisan plan in the Senate to avoid the tax hikes and spending cuts set for Tuesday. If Reid and McConnell are unable to do so, Obama made it clear that he would push Reid for an up-or-down vote on Monday, on the record, for a scaled-back plan to raise taxes on family incomes above $250,000 a year and a continuation of unemployment benefits. In either case, the Senate would be amending a House bill to incorporate Plan A or Plan B and then sending it to first the Senate floor and then the House, forcing both Mitch McConnell to let it come to a vote in the Senate, and then forcing John Boehner to bring it to a vote on New Year’s Eve, with Wall Street and the world economy watching.
Obama is allowing McConnell first crack at coming up with something in Plan A that would be aimed at allowing McConnell to swing House GOP members to vote for it. In his comments after the president’s remarks, McConnell’s tone seemed to indicate that he was working to get this done. But the whole plan also requires McConnell to ensure there will be no last-minute filibusters from the loons on his side like Rand Paul. If Reid and McConnell fail to come up with a bipartisan package, Obama wants the Senate to send over a simple Plan B, “f*ck you” package to the House that only comprised the tax cut legislation and the unemployment insurance extension, which would force John Boehner to either get it through with Democratic votes or worse yet, make him cave to his Tea Party lords and not bring it to a vote at all, thereby making the GOP take full responsibility for the market reaction to follow.
McConnell probably has enough control of his caucus to get something out of the Senate, and if he doesn't, he wears the blame for the aftermath and can compete with Boehner for Dog of the Year. In any event, Obama will make the GOP leadership and their caucuses take the full blame for what follows if no bill gets out of Congress.