To kick the can down the road or not to kick the can down the road.
That is the cliché.
Whether 'tis nobler for Wall Street to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of fiscal troubles,
And by opposing a deal? To die in Committee: to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream
Of an Era of Good Feeling: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of legislative paralysis
What dreams of a balanced budget may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil.
Ok. That's enough Hamlet for one morning.
Just proves that old myth about 100 monkeys sitting in a room in front of iPads or whatever it is.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) had a bill ready to go to the floor for a vote that was supposed to cut $1.2 trillion. But when the Congressional Budget Office "scored" it -- which means they came up with the official amount of the budget cuts involved -- it fell short of the goal with only $850 million.
So the Speaker had to …
Is it just me? I seem to remember that when the Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) was always referred to as the "non-partisan Congressional Budget Office."
I haven't heard that non-partisan tag very much this week, but I could be wrong.
So the Speaker had to put 100 budget monkeys in a room with computers that can handle really, really large numbers and have them be re-crunched. A vote is now tentatively scheduled for Thursday.
According to the Clerk of the House there are 240 Republicans; 193 Democrats; and 2 vacancies. That means it will take 217 votes (if everyone is in attendance) to guarantee passage of the Boehner plan.
There are also, by the NY Times' count, 85 Republican freshmen - the vast majority of whom believe they were elected to cut spending and generally rein in government.
If none of them vote for the Boehner program that leaves only 155 votes on the GOP side of the aisle. Boehner would need 62 Democrats to vote with him and that is, to use a highly technical term, unlikely.
Say Boehner gets 20 Democrats to come along. That gets him to 175 and he would still need 42 of the 85 freshmen, about half of them, to come on board.
It is no small deal to refuse to back the Speaker of the House when he or she is of your own party. There are committee assignments you will never get. Redistricting help you will never see. Paris Air Shows you will never attend. And fundraisers which will be thinly attended if the Speaker's people put out the word they are keeping track of who is helping whom.
The timing of all this is unfortunate as the August recess is scheduled to begin on Monday August 8. That means, because there won't be votes on Friday the 5th, the Members will head for what they hope will be the friendly confines of their home Districts as soon as the House quits on Thursday.
As we have discussed before, the seeds of the Great Political Tsunami of 2010 were sown during the August recess of 2009 when then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama sent Democrats home to sell an unformed, yet still unpopular, health care proposal.
Republican freshmen do not want to have footage of them being shouted off the stage at town hall events; of being picketed in front of their district offices; or, being chased from the American Legion Auxiliary French fry stand at the county fair.
To help them better understand what may be at stake, it was reported yesterday that representatives of Standard & Poors will be on Capitol Hill Thursday to brief freshmen members on the dangers of a drop in America's sovereign credit rating.
It seems to me that bringing S&P in to talk about credit ratings is a little like asking Kim Jong Il to send some folks to Iowa to explain the benefits of centralized planning for agriculture.
My guess? Boehner's folks will come up with a new plan that meets (or exceeds) the $1.2 trillion target, it will go to the floor on Thursday and to the horror of every single studio host on every single cable news network, it will pass.
Then it becomes Harry Reid's problem in the U.S. Senate.
When the bill goes to the Senate floor I'm going to do a parody of that speech by Macbeth:
It is a tale told by an idiot,
Full of sound and fury,
Just to be clear: I'll be the one telling the tale.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the actual Hamlet speech (and a video of Kenneth Branagh delivering it), the CBO scoring story, and the S&P piece. Also another photo from my trip to Paris last month and a Catch Caption of the Day.