As I posted last night, the House voted to fund Hurricane Sandy relief with only 49 Republicans. The Fiscal Cliff deal passed the House with only 85 Republicans. Both of these votes violated the “Hastert Rule,” which says that the Speaker of the House should only bring a vote to the floor if a majority of his caucus is in favor. That should mean that for a vote to come to the floor, there should be at least 122 Republican votes. But twice in one month, this has not been the case.
This is good news, and it makes me kind of hopeful about the Debt Ceiling crisis. It suggests that the Republican leadership is not going to allow its extremist caucus to destroy the United States and thereby the Republican Party. Hopefully. But there really is cause to be hopeful. It isn’t just this recent abandonment of the “let the crazies block all legislation” rule.
The whole Republican Party seems to be splitting in half over the issue. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have said that the Debt Ceiling must be raised. Admittedly, both of these Senators are of the “not quite so crazy” variety of Republican, but it is always the weakest joists in the ceiling that crack first.
The Hill reports that at the Republican retreat that starts today, they will be focusing on how to deal with the Debt Ceiling going forward. They claim they are considering proposals that would raise the Debt Ceiling anywhere from a couple of months to the end of Obama’s presidency. But we’ve seen this kind of thing before. All that’s going to happen is the leadership trying to convince the crazies that crashing the economy will be bad for the party. Regardless, there is no talk about actually crashing the economy and recently, the Republicans have managed to silence the idiots in their caucus who have been going around saying that maybe crashing the economy just a little bit would totally rock.
In addition to the more restrained Republicans, there is a growing chorus of conservative infrastructure calling for a clean bill. Talking Points Memo goes through the main players: the Koch funded Americans for Prosperity; the National Review; the Wall Street Journal; and even Newt Gingrich.
Even down low, it looks very bad. The people really don’t like the idea of crashing the economy. Greg Sargent provides a good analysis of a Washington Post poll that shows that only 36 percent of Republicans are in favor of a government default. (That’s still pretty high; so Republicans can continue to take pride in being a truly crazy party.)
We will see what the next week brings. I suppose it is fanciful to think that this will not come down to the deadline, but it really does look like the rats are abandoning the ship. And you know what I think: rats are very smart.