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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 08:47 AM ET, 07/29/2011

The Morning Plum

* Buckets of crazy: The abrupt cancellation of last night’s vote on John Boehner’s debt ceiling proposal suggests, as today’s Post puts it, that “control of his caucus” seems to be “slipping in dramatic fashion from his grasp.” If you want to understand what Boehner is dealing with here, look no further than this little nugget:

Some members also wanted to see stronger language calling for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget, aides said.

Or, as one House GOP aide put it in explaining the postponed vote: “Buckets of crazy.”

It's worth noting, though, that if GOP leaders do ultimately round up the votes to pass Boehner’s plan — a very big if, to be sure — the current chaos could actually help him later. It could make it easier for Boehner to argue that nothing other than his plan, or something very close to it, can ever pass the House. And we still don’t know what Dems will be prepared to concede in order to get the final compromise through the House, which, after all, remains imperative to stave off default and economic calamity.

In other words, even if things seem totally out of control in the House at this very minute, the larger dynamics of the situation mean that Republicans could still emerge from this whole mess with a major victory.

* The usual dealmaking in Congress no longer applies: As Felicia Sonmez notes, GOP leaders are discovering that the usual horse-trading can no longer be counted on to sway today’s Tea Party bigade, which remains in the grip of an anti-spending, anti-compromising fanaticism that appears to be impenetrable.

* But there's cautious optimism this morning among GOP aides: John Harwood quotes a top GOP aide: “At this point, I expect we’ll pass the bill.”

* National liberal money flowing in Wisconsin recall wars: Liberal groups are going up with this new ad slamming GOP state senator Alberta Darling for trying to dismantle the safety net on the state and Federal level, another sign that the national Dem base remains heavily engaged in the recall fights as they enter the final stretch::

Here’s why this ad — which is paid for by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America — is significant. Darling has long thought to be one of the safer of GOP recall targets. But Dems are now making a serious effort to broaden the playing field by investing in targeting her, which could make it more likely that they retake the state senate.

* Labor launching major ad buy slamming House Republicans: Unions are going up with a very hard hitting ad telling seniors that they may not get their next Social Security check — and placing the blame directly on GOPers who have brought us to the brink of default. Here’s the spot targeting GOP Senator Dean Heller:

“If the check you or your family depends on doesn’t arrive, thank Senator Heller,” the ad says, suggesting a stark framing that national Dems might have employed a bit more aggressively from the outset of this fight.

The six figure buy — which is also targeting Reps Bobby Schilling, Steve King, Chip Cravaack, Denny Rehberg, Ann Marie Buerkle, Lou Barletta, and Eric Cantor — is paid for by the SEIU, AFSCME, the NEA, and Americans United for Change.

* Pundits finally realizing that time for false equivalences is over: Paul Krugman makes his most extensive case yet that the debt ceiling crisis is unmasking the journalistic conventions of fake even-handedness and false equivalence as woefully inadequate to the task of describing what’s actually happening.

Agreed entirely, but I would note that more and more pundits are, in fact, concluding that in the context of this crisis, at least, there is no equivalence whatsoever between the behavior of the two parties. Check out this scalding passage from Joe Klein:

I am usually willing to acknowledge that Democrats can be as silly, and hidebound, as Republicans — but not this time. There is zero equivalence here. The vast majority of Democrats have been more than reasonable, more than willing to accept cuts in some of their most valued programs...The Republicans have been willing to concede nothing.

The fact that it’s increasingly acceptable to say this in polite pundit company suggests a real shift in attitudes at the highest levels of the commentariat. O f course, we had to be dragged to the brink of economic armageddon in order to make this revelation possible.

* False equivalence of the day: Courtesy of Charlie Cook, who argues that “members of Congress” have become a “laughingstock."

* What will happen today? The market will decide: Ezra Klein says the market’s verdict on the mess in the House will determine the way forward:

If Wall Street assesses this as yet another day of Washington nonsense en route to an inevitable deal, then congressional leaders will find they have a bit more time to dawdle and negotiate. If the market decides that Boehner’s inability to control his caucus is evidence that things really are different this time, it could drop precipitously. If that happens, the leadership of both parties might dispense with the legislation meant to message and figure out how to pass the legislation meant to lift the debt ceiling.

* No Dems will vote for the bill: Dem leaders are pledging total unity against the Boehner bill, which is critical: If it does pass, Dems can argue that it’s a sop to the Tea Party that has no bipartisan support.

* Dem leaders want Obama to employ Constitutional option? Steny Hoyer becomes the highest-ranking Democrat to step up and support the use of the 14th amendment to raise the debt ceiling, which seems significant: It’s a sign that Democrats at the highest levels are coming to terms with the fact that a deal averting default may not be possible.

* And let them try to impeach the President: I’m a bit late to this, but Michael Tomasky makes the case for the 14th amendment option, arguing that if Republicans try to impeach Obama it would basically ensure his reelection by unmasking the true nature of today’s GOP.

But Tomasky acknowledges that such a fight is not in Obama’s nature: “He apparently really believes — still! — in civic-republican notions of government as an arena for reasoned deliberation.”

What else is happening?

By  |  08:47 AM ET, 07/29/2011

 
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