The failure of Boehner and company to whip up enough votes for the self-described ‘Plan-B’ has many journo post–mortems this morning, perhaps none more interesting than Robert Costa’s “Inside the Meltdown” (all emphasis mine):
Boehner’s speech to the group was short and curt: He said his plan didn’t have enough support, and that the House would adjourn until after Christmas, perhaps even later. But it was Boehner’s tone and body language that caught most Republicans off guard. The speaker looked defeated, unhappy, and exhausted after hours of wrangling. He didn’t want to fight. There was no name-calling. As a devout Roman Catholic, Boehner wanted to pray. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” he told the crowd, according to attendees.
There were audible gasps of surprise, especially from freshman lawmakers who didn’t see the meltdown coming. Boehner’s friends were shocked, and voiced their disappointment so the speaker’s foes could hear. “My buddies and I said the same thing to each other,” a Boehner ally told me later. “We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and just groaned. This is a disaster.”
That “disaster” was a two-part package of “conservative Christmas tree” sequestration replacements and a reversion to pre-Bush era tax rates on millionaires (which ultimately doomed the whole venture) that was somehow supposed to take away the president’s inherent advantage vis a vie the auto-pilot nature of the fiscal cliff. I say ‘somehow’ because it essentially amounted to a legislative show-horse prancing to the tune of “See, we passed a middle-class tax cut too!”
So I find it odd when Costa includes this part in his conclusion;
But when conservatives, over and over again, refused to budge, Boehner personally decided to end the entire thing and pull it from the floor. If he didn’t have the support of his conference on his own plan, he’d walk away. He’d leave the fiscal cliff in the hands of Democrats. Boehner had spent weeks negotiating with his members and the president. But in this final hour, when he needed Republicans most, he had only a prayer.
These strikes me as pretending as though Plan B was anything other than what it was — the equivalent of a legislative statement and nothing more. It was a bill that would never pass the Senate and the White House promised to veto anyway. Which is to say that Plan B had no purpose other than as a negotiating tactic to frame House Republicans as ‘middle-class friendly.’ The disaster is not that the fiscal cliff is suddenly “in the hands of Democrats,” but that Boehner couldn’t corral enough conservative votes for a piece of meaningless legislation.