I talked about the debt limit deal in the past tense in my initial thoughts, but I should have put it in the present tense. Because there’s no real guarantee that this thing gets through the House. I think Senate passage is far more likely – there will be some falloff on the left and the right, but enough in the middle to get the thing over the line. The House is a different animal.
Speaker Boehner said yesterday that the deal “isn’t the greatest”, but it lives up to GOP principles. He sold it to his caucus with a series of slides that actually doesn’t tell the truth about the deal, something I think that conservative activists will point out. The balanced budget amendment vote in the deal is purely symbolic. The Catfood Commission II will not “make it impossible to increase taxes” because of the baseline it’s working off; it only makes it impossible to deal with the Bush tax cuts. Any tax loopholes or other revenue-raising changes are fair game. He doesn’t even get right how the second tranche of the debt limit gets delivered – it is not dependent on the Catfood Commission or the BBA.
Grover Norquist may be in support, but I suspect many House conservatives will let these half-truths be known, and will not support the deal. Some are pretty mad about the defense cuts. Jon Karl says that 80-100 Republicans will bolt on the deal. That means Boehner would need about 70 Democrats to go along.
Nancy Pelosi said last night “We all may not be able to support it, or none us may be able to support it.” Some progressives like Raul Grijalva came out strong against the deal, saying “This deal weakens the Democratic Party as badly as it weakens the country.” About the only House Democrat I’ve seen with a positive thing to say about the deal is Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who in her position as DNC chair pretty much has to. Steny Hoyer said that his whip count only gets to 66.
Somehow I think that 216 votes will be found, and barely that, but stranger things have happened. And we know Boehner is not in control of his caucus and has a hard time guaranteeing votes.
If I were Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, I wouldn’t pop the champagne corks just yet.