Republicans have had a tough 48 hours. John Boehner, and the House caucus members he speaks for, should have been disabused of any illusions they may have had about the Tea Partiers giving them any room to maneuver in budget negotiations. They know, once and for all, that House Republicans are incapable of credibly presenting Senate Democrats and the White House with a united front. Shouldn’t that have a substantial impact on subsequent negotiations?
Forget about the concessions respecting the balanced budget amendment that the Tea Partiers forced on the Republican leadership this morning. As of yesterday, the major bones of contention between the Boehner and Reid plans were over the reality of the spending cuts promised by Reid and Boehner’s insistence on another round of debt-ceiling negotiations before the next election. Republicans think Reid’s budget-cutting is riddled with gimmicks; Democrats think that Boehner's setting them up for another hostage crisis next January. It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out where this is (or should be) heading; Republicans need to accept more genuine spending cuts in exchange for postponing the next fight over the debt ceiling until after the next election.
Shouldn’t that be a lot easier deal for Republicans to accept today than it was a couple of days ago now that they know (and know that Democrats know) that they lack the cohesiveness to bargain effectively? Does the Republican leadership still believe that it'll be better positioned to negotiate another debt-ceiling deal in six months, in the heat of a Republican presidential primary campaign, than it is now? Do Boehner, Cantor et al. really want to undergo the ordeal they’ve experienced over the last 48 hours again next January?