* Eric Cantor bluntly told House Republicans at a closed-door meeting today that if they don’t pass John Boehner’s plan to raise the debt ceiling in stages, they may end up getting stuck with Harry Reid’s proposal.
A source in the room says Cantor told assembled Republicans — who may or may not pass Boehner’s proposal — that he understands that “the debt limit vote sucks.” But he then told them flatly that they have three choices, the source emails:
1) Pass August 2nd and risk default and the unknown.
2) Give the President a blank check with Harry Reid’s gimmick plan.
3) Call the President’s bluff and pass a plan [the Boehner plan] that is consistent with our principles and that forces him to debate entitlements, taxes, and spending in 6 months.
That suggests that House Republicans are well aware of the Senate Dem strategy, which is to wait for the Boehner plan to crash and burn in the House and to use that to ratchet up pressure on Republicans to accept the Reid plan.
* MoveOn, in a statement, puts Dems on notice about supporting the Boehner plan:
We will not support any Democrat next year who helps the Republicans take our economy over the cliff by supporting the Boehner plan.
Why this matters: Each Dem who supports the Boehner proposal — there may be as many as 10 — makes it easier for GOP leaders to get it through the House while losing conservatives.
* Veteran Congressional reporter David Rogers says the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring of the Boehner plan means it very well may fall short in the eyes of conservatives, possibly imperiling it in the House.
* Boehner can only afford to lose about two dozen House Republicans, or his plan goes down.
* Jed Lewison does the rundown and finds most of the heavy-hitting right-wing groups oppose Boehner’s plan.
Key takeaway: House Republicans are finding themselves torn between the Chamber of Commerce, which is urging support, and the Club for Growth, which is opposed — a less than enviable position.
* And House Dem leaders will be whipping against the Boehner plan, with the goal of denying it any Dem support, another sign of how much Dems are staking on defeating it.
* Jon Chait on why Boehner is quickly running out of maneuvering room, and why he may have to watch his back once this is all over.
* David Dayen suggests that if the Boehner plan goes down, you could conceivably see a “clean” debt ceiling hike emerge as the preferable option.
* Ben Smith notes that the 2012 GOP candidates have been oddly reluctant to embrace the Boehner plan, perhaps because its details make it “politically dangerous.”
* Case in point: Mitt Romney’s camp says he “applauds” Boehner’s stance on taxes but doesn’t quite take a position on Boehner’s actual plan.
* It really is striking how many Republicans are suddenly using the talking point that Obama wants a “blank check.”
* Dems are growing cautiously optimistic that they may take back the Wisconsin state senate.
* Paul Krugman on the cult that is destroying America: The cult of “balance,” of “centrism,” of “both sides are at fault.”
* And Harry Reid quoted from this blog on the Senate floor today, saying:
Yesterday the Washington Post called this debate over whether to default on the full faith and credit of the United States “surreal” and “bizarre.” That was their words. This commentary is valid.
What else is happening?