Plan C: The White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) cook up a putrid bill (from conservatives’ standpoint), including tax hikes (in excess of Clinton-era rate hikes for the rich) and phony cuts. Reid jams it through the Senate. House Democrats announce they will support it unanimously, and the House Republicans are forced to swallow it or allow everyone’s taxes to go up.
Plan D: Reid and Obama can’t come up with anything to pass the Senate. They agree to extend the tax rates and hold off on the sequestration for 90 days, continuing to torture the entire country.
Plan E: Obama and House Speaker John Boehner reach a deal that a minority of House and Senate Republicans could support but that will command near unanimity among House and Senate Democrats. By definition it is worse than anything a majority of Republicans could agree upon.
Plan F: Boehner and the president return to the bargaining table. But now Boehner is in a worse bargaining position since he can’t provide enough votes to pass the House. They therefore jointly craft a bill that is less acceptable to the Republicans than prior offers but can gain the support of Republicans. (The notion that the president after last night’s fiasco will be compelled to move closer to Boehner is, well, fanciful. He has his foot on Republicans’ necks and he is not about to let up.)
There are probably some other scenarios, but, truth be told, there are no good ones. And if this is bad, imagine how horrendous the debt-ceiling talks will be.