As we draw ever closer to January 1, the talks on the budget issue are beginning to sound less and less like serious fiscal management and more like a Roadrunner cartoon.
The clearest indication that House Speaker John Boehner’s final fiscal cliff ploy backfired came late Wednesday when he began modifying his so-called Plan B.
Plan B, recall, is legislation to lock in the Bush tax cuts for all incomes up to $1 million — a fallback plan he hopes will strengthen his negotiating hand with President Obama.
But late Wednesday, faced with a daunting whip count, Republican leaders did two things. First, they began entertaining the notion of tacking spending cuts on to the bill — to entice skeptical House conservatives to provide badly needed votes. (Their skepticism is understandable: Why should they vote for legislation designed to strengthen Boehner’s hand in deficit reduction negotiations they don’t support in the first place?)
Second, and crucially, they scotched a tandem plan to vote down legislation, supported by most Democrats, extending the Bush tax cuts for income up to $250,000.
That was the biggest tell of the day: Boehner can’t deep-six that bill, because he may need to pass it —with help from Democrats — if fiscal cliff negotiations with Obama fall apart completely.