Today's announcement by House GOP leaders that the GOP is no longer insisting that the payroll tax extension be offset with spending cuts is just the latest in what now has to be considered to be a series of failures by the tea party to exert any significant influence on a final spending or tax decision.
First, the continuing resolution approved last April for all of 2012 reduced spending by only millions of dollars when the tea party had been insisting on $100 billion.
Second, the debt ceiling deal increased the government's borrowing limit when the tea party initially demanded that it not be increased at all. And at least some of the spending cuts it included, which were a fraction of what the tea party wanted, could be reduced further if the sequester is modified or canceled.
Third, the payroll tax cut was extended in December over the tea party's objections.
And fourth is today's announcement that offsetting spending cuts for extending the payroll tax cut again will no longer be required.
Is it really possible the tea partiers in the House don't realize that they're not as important as they say they are?
The best way to understand why House Speaker John Boehner (R--OH) is in trouble with other House Republicans on the payroll tax extension is to refer back yet again to my experience late last February when I spoke at the first meeting of the House tea party caucus.
The whole story is here for those who didn't read or don't remember it.
If you're pressed for time...two of the most important things I heard at that meeting were that the tea partiers said very explicitly they didn't trust Boehner or Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and that the biggest mistake Newt Gingrich (R-GA) made in 1995 and 1996 when he was fighting Bill Clinton on budget issues is that he gave-in too early. He would have gotten much more they said had he just held out until the very last minute.
As I've said before, it's hard to see what the tea party folks really meant by "last-minute" given that there were government shutdowns in 1995 and 1996 and, technically at least, Gingrich held out beyond the moment when they could have been averted, that is, well after the last minute.
Long-time CG&G visitors may recall that My Beautiful and Talented Wife (The BTW) is a professional actor who tends to think of the world in theater terms. As I continued to describe the events of the past few weeks to her, she kept saying that it reminded her of the plot of something by William Shakespeare (or Game of Thrones on HBO, but that's a different post).
The question was which of Shakespeare's plays was most appropriate.
As this article by renowned University of Texas Professor Jamie Galbraith indicates, Much Ado About Nothing might be right. Given the fact that most of the action took place in July and August and a week or so later and is still hard to imagine, A Midsummer Night's Dream might be correct. The Tempest is an obvious choice. And The Comedy of Errors is just too good to pass up without further consideration.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) failure to get enough votes yesterday from the Republican caucus to pass the deficit reduction/debt ceiling legislation he drafted has the federal budgeting world scrambling today for new options.
With only four days left before the August 2 date on which the Treasury says the federal government will begin to turn into a fiscal and financial pumpkin, two options that up to now were said must not be spoken -- the Lord Voldemorts of the budget -- are starting to be discussed very openly.
The first would be a decision by Boehner to work with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) to come up with a bill that 100 or so Democrats will support. They'll need that many because any bill that attracts Democratic votes will mean that Boehner will lose more Republicans than the 25 or so that yesterday reportedly could not be moved to vote for the bill.