Would you vote for it?
The New York Times reviews yesterday’s developments, but watch The Hill for the latest out of today’s House GOP Conference meeting. This wonderful paper is painting the vote on Boehner 2.0 as a referendum on the Speaker, though there are a lot of supporters of the Speaker who might vote no. It is a very complicated vote.
On the one hand, the potential damage done to markets (and to politics) by even a partial repeat of the panic of 2008 argues greatly for a yes vote. The bill doesn’t increase anyone’s taxes, makes some modest cuts, and the Gang of 12 could come up with some significant entitlement reforms that will get a vote.
On the other hand, the Speaker made the “yes” vote harder yesterday by allowing MSM to present the vote as a jam down by him, and he provided that narrative just as the conservative leadership in the House both experienced –Paul Ryan– and new –Alan West– was getting Whip Kevin McCarthy’s numbers up.
And there is the real chance that all of the hype about August 2 is just that, hype.
I would vote yes on the bill if I knew who was on the supercommittee and trusted them not to allow any tax hikes into the mix when the committee met and debated. The Speaker has not explained his $800 billion in new revenues offer made to the president, and if that included changes to the home mortgage interest deduction, the charitable deduction or the state and local tax deduction, it would be a terrible policy change and a devastating political blow as well as a breach of the Pledge so enormous as to endanger the GOP’s House majority in 2012.
The Speaker has said no new taxes will come out of the supercommittee, but that depends on the meaning of new taxes doesn’t it, and on the supercommittee’s members’ views on the meaning of new taxes.
Then there’s defense spending. Boehner 2.0, as Bill Kristol noted on my show yesterday —the transcript of that conversation will be posted here later– does not gut Defense beyond the sharp and very difficult cuts already imposed on the Pentagon, but supercommittees have superpowers, and if one of the GOP’s members decides with the Democrats to push to a vote some Pentagon-slashing bit of isolationist wishful thinking, the final product can’t be filibustered in the Senate and could fly through the House on the strength of a coalition of Democrats, isolationist Ron Paul types, debt-reduction-only hawks and liberal Republicans.
The names –folks like Paul Ryan, Jeff Flake, John Campbell, Buck McKeon– would help ease passage, but the Speaker has thus far not been willing to tell his Conference on whom their political futures and the fiscal sanity of the country rest.
So I would be leaning yes today, but asking the ambassador from Planet McCarthy “Who is the Speaker appointing to the Joint Committee?” If I didn’t get an answer I liked, or any answer at all, then I wouldn’t give one back either.