Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Denouement

Conventional wisdom seems to be that the repeated failure of various House budget plans, torpedoed by the GOP's Taliban wing, is actually a good sign.

Yesterday, John Boehner was playing a completely different game. His game was trying to devise a plan that was acceptable to nearly all Republicans and thus could pass the House despite having zero Democratic support. That was an important game for Boehner personally and for the internal politics of the House GOP caucus. But nothing that's acceptable to the 30-100 most conservative House members will be acceptable to the White House. A deal that's unacceptable to the White House can't become law, and a deal that is acceptable to the White House doesn't need the 30-100 most conservative House members. Yesterday's whole hunt for House votes and a "House plan" was pure kabuki.

Today we're exactly where we've been for weeks. If Republicans are willing to divide their caucus, there are ways out of they've dug. If they aren't, they aren't. Yesterday's collapse of GOP-only dealmaking makes it more likely that they'll be willing to divide their caucus, and a divided caucus is the only way out. This isn't dispositive, but I do think it's telling that financial markets remain calm. Playing this drama out until the 11th hour has been damaging, but that's priced in. The expectation is still that this will end, and the pieces are in place for that to happen.

Hope that's true.