This article in The Hill, quoting sources who were part of the intense whip operation to pass Boehner’s Plan B, reveals chaos and fear in the ranks of the GOP and how it is very close to becoming “every man for himself” on the Republican side of the aisle:
“I think that there were members that are so gun shy about primaries that they weren’t willing to take a risk … some members told me that it was just too hard to explain how it wasn’t a tax increase,” Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said shortly following Thursday night’s abrupt conference meeting where Boehner told his colleagues they wouldn’t vote on the bill.
Fewer than 24 hours later, Speaker Boehner told reporters that his colleagues were worried about the perception of raising taxes.
“There was a perception created that that vote last night was going to increase taxes. Now I disagree with … that characterization of the bill, but that impression was out there. Now, we had a number of our members who just really didn’t [want] to be perceived as having raised taxes,” the Speaker said at a Friday morning press conference in the U.S. Capitol.
A bulk of the whipping effort centered on shooting down that argument, made by influential conservative interest groups, that Republicans would be “caving” if they gave in on allowing tax rates to increase for any portion of the population.
Boehner and his deputies helping to whip up support for Plan B — a proposal to keep the current rates in place for more than 98 percent of taxpayers instead of allowing them to expire for everybody on Dec. 31 — tried to convince 25-30 holdouts not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
One lawmaker, who has served on the whip team for several years, told The Hill that he was “whipping people that I’ve never had to whip before.”
The lawmaker, who requested anonymity, was getting frustrated with his colleagues for regurgitating the “the same old bull—- lines … like, ‘If we don’t hold the line, or if we cave’… And I said, ‘What??? Then what?’”
He was able to turn several votes when his colleagues couldn’t answer “what then.”
At a time when it is absolutely essential for Republicans to be united, the leadership is failing in its efforts largely because members fear the tea party more than they fear the speaker of the House. More than the tea party, grass roots activists — and those who fund them — are also on the warpath, looking for deviancy from holy writ; no tax increase.
The question then becomes if Boehner is incapable of leading his caucus, shouldn’t he be replaced? That might work if there was anyone better. The problem is that conservatives may not be able to unite around a single candidate.
Brietbart reports that there is a document with an action plan to deny Boehner the speakership when Congress reconvenes on January 3. The key appears to be establishing a secret ballot to elect the speaker. Currently, the election requires a roll call vote where one’s opposition to Boehner is very public and very dangerous. Making it the first order of business to conduct the election for speaker by secret ballot would still be risky because that vote would need to be conducted by roll call. The revolutionaries would be identified in short order and failure to unseat Boehner would have consequences. Therefore, the plan will probably not be implemented unless the ringleaders are fairly certain of success.
Members may be unhappy with Boehner but unless a realistic alternative steps forward, it is likely that the speaker will be re-elected. That doesn’t bode well for the GOP’s future as a damaged and weakened speaker must face the Democrats with a divided caucus behind him. In that case, President Obama may be able to peel off enough Republicans to get his fiscal cliff proposals passed despite Boehner’s opposition.
The Republicans appear to be well and truly trapped and are in desperate need of strong leadership. It doesn’t look like they are going to get it from Beohner.