Have you ever been in a hotel room late at night, beset by insomnia, too tired to get your work done, and knowing you've got to see clients in the morning? You turn on the TV and start channel surfing and come across the middle of some movie. It looks familiar, but you can't quite place what it's a remake of, since you arrived too late to get a newspaper, and there's no guide on the television.
I felt that way last night. The original movie played on my computer at work, with a friend standing behind me, back in 2008, when we watched the TARP legislation fail. He told me I looked like I was going to faint. I couldn't believe it. I knew what it meant, and I couldn't understand....when the economy imploded, I wasn't surprised.
So last night, I was chatting on the phone, playing on the computer, waiting for the vote and all of sudden, Boehner sent his minions home. In 2008, they made a terrible mistake, but they stayed in town. Flashback to the calendar Steny Hoyer immediately put out when he became Majority Leader, with so many days marked "House In Session". Back when the House WORKED.
I understood that they didn't take a vote. It had never looked like a passable piece of legislation, but to go HOME!?!?!? What cowards the Republican "leadership" is. And I put "leadership" in quotes, because this is a case of de facto and de jure, and Boehner, Cantor, Ryan and the rest of their cabal are certainly not "leadership" if their membership will not follow.
We've been talking since 2009 about the implosion of the Republican Party due to the rise of the teabaggers. I suppose if there was to be a singular watershed moment, last night was it.
The biggest House loser was John Boehner who's crying actual tears back home in Ohio. He faces an election on 3 January, to see if he can retain his position as Speaker. If he doesn't, it will be because the same far right wing wackos who caused the cancellation of last night's vote support Eric Cantor, or some other teabagger. He now has three basic options: he can recall the House on the 26th, and cut a deal with Nancy Pelosi to pass the Senate bill keeping the tax cuts for those making $250,000 and under, or the President's plan (although that's not in legislative form, and there isn't time to get that done before 31 December. Well, the Democrats could do it, but not Boehner and company.) Or else, he can wait until 2 January, call the House and pass either of those pieces of legislation then. If he does neither of those, his fallback is to resign his seat and go work on K Street.
Boehner actually can cut a deal with Pelosi. He needs between 19 and 29 Republican votes (depending on whether its the 112th or 113th Congress) to add to the Democratic majority. He could actually do that, be a hero to America, then primary Rob Portman in 2016 after spending several years on K Street and writing a book. (He can't actually get an interim teaching position, as colleges and universities need to be accredited.) He's actually got those votes, from people who know that their constituents will remember whose fault is was that their taxes went up in 2013.
Cutting a deal would be smart, and Boehner has not been smart. A week ago, Boehner and Obama were really close to a deal. From what I've read, they were like 3 billion apart, which seems like a lot, but somehow isn't. All Boehner had to do was be reasonable. As in "work smarter, not harder." But he acted like one of those idiots on the buying-a-house shows where the price is $300,000, the bid is $250,000 and the owner comes back with $300,000. It was a sign when he came up with Plan B, that raised taxes on everyone EXCEPT those making over $1,000,000 a year that he had drunk a huge vat of stupid. (Yes, I read the details and that was what Plan B was.) And now he will pay a huge price for that cupidity.
Come January, when everyone's taxes go up, sequestration hits, and the markets tank, the House will have to act. And the Republicans will do so from a very weakened position. If nothing is done by the State of the Union, President Obama will be in the Chamber, and will explain how this is all the Republicans' fault, and it's up to you, America, to call, write and tweet your rep and yell. House Republicans have negotiated in bad faith, and while all of America doesn't know it yet, soon they will.
And what of the teabaggers? They were the ones who wouldn't even consider Plan B. Don't get me wrong, Plan B was DOA and a very bad deal, but that wasn't why they said no. They said no because their goal is to destroy government, plain and simple. They want everything to implode in January, they want to take up arms against the government, they want complete and utter ruin of America. Drinking Kool-Aid is never a good idea in any form, and theirs is flavoured with the worst kind of venom.
The question will be whether or not regular people are ready to stand up and yell "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Whether they will call their Republican reps and tell them that they will never vote for them again, and then follow through. And that's a questionable thing as most people are blissfully unaware of what's going on. But perhaps this time, people who sit back except to vote on the 1461st day will finally say that they've had enough.
So it goes, said Billy Pilgrim.