The Corner

Is ‘Plan B’ DOA?

Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” is the talk of Capitol Hill, but many Republicans are less than optimistic about its chances. Several veteran lawmakers tell me that Boehner’s move to extend rates for most Americans is noble, but they think it’ll ultimately die in the Senate.

“Harry Reid will happily blow this up, and the president won’t accept Boehner’s terms,” predicts a GOP senator. “If this is the end of the game, then we’re going over the cliff.”

Two more Republican senators agree, and say that Boehner’s proposal is more of a political Hail Mary than a realistic option.

The conservatives, for their part, don’t like the proposal’s inclusion of high-income tax-rate increases, and the moderates don’t like the timing. “It should have come sooner,” a centrist Republican senator says. “Now, it may be too late.”

Republican House members and senators both say that in terms of messaging, Boehner’s plan isn’t half bad, since they can argue that they tried mightily to find common ground with Democrats. But they’re wary of spending a lot of time on an idea that may have a limited political life.

“I doubt this is going to be the final plan,” a Senate GOP staffer says. “Democrats aren’t going to accept this, and they’ll push Boehner back on what he wants.”

For the moment, Boehner isn’t facing a revolt, but he also isn’t being cheered. His caucus is wary, and Senate Republicans are pessimistic. They know that he has been dealt a poor hand, but they’re not entirely supportive of how he’s playing it.

House Republicans, however, will take up “plan B” later this week, and plan to pressure the Senate soon after to pass it.

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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