President Obama has called "for Congress to approve a stripped-down measure by year’s end to prevent a tax increase for all but the richest taxpayers and to extend aid for two million unemployed Americans." Since there's nothing more he can do until the House pulls itself together, he and his family took off for their Christmas back home in Hawaii.
But as he and Democrats in Congress envision the coming days, the Senate would reconvene on Thursday to pass a compromise bill with commitments of cooperation from both Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, to keep the process moving.
Facing the Dec. 31 deadline for the expiration of all Bush-era tax cuts, Mr. McConnell would need to promise not to filibuster and Mr. Boehner would have to agree to a House vote on the Senate-passed bill. ...NYT
What are the odds of that happening? Tea party Republicans have indicated they won't budge, so the move would require full support from Democrats and would almost surely mean a severe political defeat for Republicans who haven't been able to keep their caucus in line. It will be hard for Republicans to accept, but it is the result of their intransigence and, of course, infiltration by aliens.
This time the drama has played out in the open where all voters can see it. Like it or not, "without such action, taxes would increase on Jan. 1 for every taxpayer. National polls have shown that most Americans would blame Republicans." Of course. Republicans = tax increase. Not a popular label. Republicans can't govern. Even worse.
And it is going to get worse in the new year.
Nate Silver has been focusing on the "arithmetic problem" when the new members of the House are sworn in.
Although Republicans have moved more to the right than Democrats have moved to the left in recent years, according to measures like those developed by Mr. Poole, the attrition in the Democratic Party has nevertheless contributed to moving the two parties even further apart.
What that means is that if Mr. Boehner has a significant number of Republican defections, as he did on Thursday night, he will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.
Perhaps cooler heads will prevail in these negotiations. But a majority of the incoming House – 237 of 433 members – will be either Tea Party Republicans or liberal Democrats, leaving only 196 members who are either Establishment Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats and who might form a functional center-right coalition.
Moreover, the House is likely to engage in repeated battles over fiscal policy during the next two years: not just the over the fiscal cliff, but also over the debt ceiling, annual budgeting plans and whatever stabilization measures might be proposed in the event of another economic downturn.
If Mr. Boehner is having as much trouble whipping votes as he did on Thursday night, reducing the pool from which he might be able to draw together a compromise, this arithmetic problem could turn out to be intractable at some point. ...Nate Silver, 538
While all this is going on, Republicans are putting themselves at further risk if they don't raise the debt ceiling. Last time they messed up on this, the nation's credit rating suffered a blow.