Sinking the GOP
If I had to put down a bet right now, I’d wager that for a variety of reasons there will be a default. For his part, John Boehner made the mistake of sending a concilliatory message last weekend and then reversing himself with a hard line one day later. After summarily rejecting Obama’s various budget proposals and then abdicating for months his responsibility to work with the Senate on a conference committee to finalize a budget, Boehner had the gall to plea for a “conversation” with the president at the 11th hour. A conversation to do what John? Extort even more from the president? Obama has been telling you for weeks that he will not negotiate with a gun to his head on things the Congress is responsible for, and you’ve just now realized that for once, he meant it?
For his part, with his remarks yesterday at FEMA, Obama has consciously pushed Boehner into a corner with his challenge of an up-or-down vote on a clean continuing resolution (CR). Obama basically took Boehner’s Sunday assertion that there weren’t the votes to pass a clean CR, and called him a liar yesterday at FEMA, and heaped the blame upon him for not being able to do his job and count votes. NBC’s Chuck Todd said later yesterday that the GOP leadership doesn’t understand why Obama is making their job impossible. They shouldn’t be so clueless – Obama has simply concluded that because of Boehner’s inability to lead his caucus, there will now likely be a default, and unlike his first term, Obama has sagely decided to use the calamity to destroy the GOP as a national party. Obama will continually assign blame between now and the default to the House GOP leadership, giving Boehner the no-win choice between Wall Street and the Tea Party. If Boehner cuts a deal with Democrats to avoid a default and please Wall Street, he loses his speakership and exposes his caucus to intraparty attacks from Tea Party extremists and their far-right funders like the Koch brothers, CATO, and Heritage. Either way, Boehner will be splintering his party and Obama has simply decided that when a nemesis is drowning, you hand him an anvil.
As for Ted Cruz, he now wants to escape blame for what is about to happen. Cruz thought he could instigate this calamity and benefit either way: Obama would either cave and give him what he wanted, or Boehner would cave and Cruz could then use that for more self-serving 2016 fundraising. What Cruz didn’t count on was Obama hanging tough and using the debacle to destroy the GOP as a national party. Sure, Cruz will still try and benefit from this, but Wall Street’s money will be gone by then and the national electorate and international power brokers will never again trust the GOP to govern.