The Big Vote

What If Plan B Doesn't Pass?

12.20.12 4:40 PM ET

Boehner is scrambling to get 218 votes, reports The Hill:

The House Republican whip operation was on full display during two sets of votes on Wednesday evening, with Boehner spotted in lengthy conversations with several members.

Eleven House Republicans have told The Hill they were either leaning against or definitely opposing the Boehner bill, and many others said they had not decided. With most Democrats expected to vote against it, the Speaker can afford to lose just 24 votes from his own side.

A senior GOP lawmaker close to the leadership told The Hill that Boehner would likely hold a vote on the measure regardless of whether he believes it will pass or fail, to show President Obama that Republicans won’t vote for an option without significant spending cuts.

It's unclear how many Democrats might back Plan B. I'm told the minority leader's office is working to get the number to zero, which if successful means Boehner needs all 218 from his side.

Let's say he gets them. Then Republicans can try to say they're willing to back some tax increases, but I doubt most Americans will be too fooled by that. This is a fig leaf deal all the way, and most people will see that.

And if he doesn't get them? Well, that's a big win for Obama short-term, because he can then say: see, the Republicans couldn't even bring themselves to back an increase on the richest .19 percent of Americans. They're rigid and inflexible and hopeless and just plain cuhrayzee. All blame would fall on the GOP.

However, a defeat might imperil Boehner's speakership, because this is his big play, his attempt to unify his caucus behind a negotiating position. Fun as it might be to see Le Grande Orange go down in disglory, the sad fact is that anyone who'd replace him would be worse (Eric Cantor or Kevin McCarthy). Either of them almost surely means no progress on anything. Erik Erickson at Red State is out strong today against "the Boehner tax hike." I wonder what Rush is saying. Surely no.

The vote is expected sometime after 8 tonight. I'll be on Ed Schulz, by the way, maybe exactly as the roll is being called. In the context of my life, that's high drama!