Madman Theory or just a bunch of madmen? (It's all about the Hastert Rule)

Madman Theory or just a bunch of madmen?

by digby

So, Eric Cantor is acting like a lunatic and is threatening to scuttle the deal unless they get spending cuts. In other words, the right wing is refusing to take yes for an answer again --- that yes being a short delay in the sequester and a future debt ceiling fight where they will be holding all the cards. It's just how they roll.

But here's the thing: Boehner has the votes. (Or he did...) The problem is that it would violate the idiotic Hastert rule to bring it to the floor without a majority of GOP votes.
Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) has about 100 Republican members he can count on if and when the Senate-passed "fiscal-cliff" bill hits the House floor, according to an analysis by The Hill.

But it remains unclear if Boehner and his lieutenants will be able to convince the majority of the GOP Conference to back legislation that increases tax rates on the wealthy and lacks significant spending cuts. The Senate passed its fiscal-cliff bill, 89-8, early on New Year's Day.

Boehner has not expressed opposition or support for the Senate legislation. But Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a member of the GOP leadership team, backed the bill during a Tuesday morning interview on MSNBC and later predicted a majority of Republicans will support it. The House will either pass the measure, or amend it and send it back to the upper chamber. However, such a move would be difficult because House Democrats would likely oppose changing the bill and keeping the entire Republican Conference in line has been a major challenge for Boehner this Congress.

To assess party loyalty, The Hill analyzed five controversial bills on fiscal matters that sparked outcry from factions on the right and significant defections from House GOP members: a March 15, 2011 stopgap funding bill; an April 14, 2011 bill that averted a government shutdown; an Aug. 1 roll call on the Budget Control Act; a Nov. 17, 2011 "minibus" appropriations measure; and a Feb. 17, 2012 vote to extend the payroll tax holiday. Republican defections ranged from 54 to 101 on these bills.

Obviously there would be enough Dems to pass it.

So, the real question here is whether Boehner can hold on to his speakership if he brings the Senate bill to a vote. From what I'm hearing, nobody knows. (There was this article in Politico last week that indicated nobody really wanted the Speakership hot potato in this environment but I don't know if still operative.) Cantor's acting very aggressive so I think there's some legitimate fear that he might make his move.

And maybe there's a method here: it may be a sort of Madman Theory, in which the House GOP scares the Democrats into revising the deal rather than take a chance on losing Boehner to the lunatic Cantor. Frankly, I don't know why the Dems should care --- the problem is the rump Tea Party and they are going to have to face them down at some point if they ever care to govern normally again.  I don't think it will matter who's Speaker until that happens.

On the other hand Occam's Razor suggests that they just will not accept any deal that President Obama and the Democrats will agree to:
GOP source, privy to leadership strategy: House will add "spending cuts they know Democrats can't live with...Our base is gonna be fired up"
— Mike Allen (@mikeallen) January 1, 2013
Or they're just really, really stupid:
GOP source: If deal had passed, the party would have been split and have lost its way on taxes. Politics were all bad before; nowis a draw
— Mike Allen (@mikeallen) January 1, 2013