Senate Republicans voted to raise taxes on most American households and added trillions to the deficit, proving they truly are the party of Reagan. Now it's up to the House to win one for the Gipper. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, January 1st, 2013:
FREMDSHAMEN: VICARIOUS EMBARRASSMENT FOR OTHERS - A high-stakes, multi-layered game of chicken broke out in the Capitol today, as House Republicans grappled with how to handle a fiscal cliff bill sent their way by an overwhelming bipartisan vote, even while it's wildly unpopular within their conference. The damndest problem for the GOP was that last week, when John Boehner failed to get his people to back his Plan B, he said this: "Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff." He didn't add: "At which point, we will reject it in dramatic fashion, embarrassing ourselves and the country in the process, before caving and passing it." Republican leadership aides spent much of the day trying to think of ways to amend the bill that would be palatable to enough Republicans and also be able to pass the Senate. No such thing exists, of course, so they are finally going to take the advice Nancy Pelosi gave them weeks ago: Give your extreme members something to vote on for the hell of it, and then give a clean vote on the thing you want passed. If Pelosi can find a way to fund illegal wars, dammit, Boehner can figure out how to pass some tax cuts. House leadership aides are whipping their conference to determine whether they have the votes needed to amend and pass the bill. Once they've gone through that motion -- they don't have the votes, unless the amendment repeals Dodd-Frank or something -- they'll figure out a way to allow a clean vote on the Senate bill and then we can all absorb ourselves into the debt ceiling, sequester and CR fight. We call this governing. [HuffPost's fiscal cliff liveblog]
Charles Krauthammer: "A complete rout by the Democrats."
MACHO TALK FROM EARLIER - "I'll be shocked if this isn't sent back to the Senate," said Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), leaving the first of two meetings on Tuesday. "I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility," said a senior House GOP aide, confirmed by other high-level aides. They had no problem making life uncomfortable for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who they blame for getting them in this mess, said one GOP source close to the situation. "He jammed the House. He's gonna get re-jammed," he said of the possibility the House amends the bill and sends it back to the Senate. But if House Republicans think they can put the onus back on the Senate by amending the bill, they are wildly mistaken, a Democratic Senate aide involved in the talks said. "They are full of hot air. Not a chance we come back," he said. The Senate is adjourned until noon tomorrow. [HuffPost]
Scott Garrett on Fox News, taken majorly out of context, just for kicks: "Nothing ever good happens at 2:00 in the morning...I'll wait until I go into that room down the hallway and get whipped."
@mmcauliff: Q: Is there going to be a vote tonight? Paul Ryan: "I don't know the answer to that. You gotta ask the leader guys."
HOUSE GOP MULLS OPTIONS OVER CHINESE FOOD AND CIGARETTES - Republican lawmakers came out of their caucus meeting on Tuesday afternoon looking sad and not saying too much about their plans. The House is voting now on stuff unrelated to the fiscal cliff -- including a congressional pay freeze -- but might have more votes later. "The Speaker presented his members two options," a House leadership aide told HuffPost's Jen Bendery. "The first would be to make an amendment to the Senate bill that would add a package of spending cuts. The Whip will do a whip check on this spending cuts amendment after the meeting. If we can get the commitment of 218 votes on this amendment, we will bring it to the floor and send it to the Senate. The Speaker and the Leader both cautioned members about the risk in such a strategy. They told them there is no guarantee the Senate would act on it. If we cannot get the commitment of 218 votes tonight, we will bring up the Senate-passed measure for an up-or-down vote in the House."
The pay freeze will keep annual salaries for rank-and-file members at $174,000. So brave.
AMENDMENTS COULD BACKFIRE - Mike McAuliff: "Not only could Republican changes to the fiscal cliff deal create a measure that the Senate refuses to take up, it could create a bill that's actually tougher on the GOP. Why? As the measure stands now, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would push Democrats to hold their noses and back the bill, which is not enthusiastically supported. There could be around 150 Democratic votes in favor, meaning fewer than 70 Republicans would have to sign on. But if Republicans amend the deal with anything Dems like less, all bets are off, said one Democratic source. House Speaker John Boehner would then have to compel more of his caucus to back the deal, and he was unable to get that sort of support when he tried his Plan B proposal to set the tax-cut cut-off at $1 million -- more than double what passed the Senate early this morning. 'It would just kill this thing,' a Democrat said. 'It wouldn't pass.' House Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) was asked if amending the bill is the equivalent of killing it. 'To me, that's the case," he said, according to Fox News' Chad Pergram.'" [HuffPost]
With no false modesty, we'll just come out and say it: Told ya so: [McLaughlin Group]
Howard Fineman on Joe Biden's meeting with the Democratic House caucus: 'At 2:06 p.m. Tuesday, Biden swept out of back door of a Democratic caucus meeting about the fiscal cliff deal without giving any concrete indication of what had gone on in an hour and a half of talking and answering questions. I asked him if he had the votes and he said, 'you're an old hand and you know that I never predict the vote.' I asked him what the most effective argument was that he had made and he said, 'you'll have to ask the members that.' He smiled the usual Biden sincerely frozen grimace and added, 'I'm a "foreign policy expert!" Why am I here doing this?' Then he disappeared up the escalator surrounded by a cloud of aides and security officers." [HuffPost]
WHAT NEXT IF DEAL COLLAPSES? More from Howard: "Some Democrats were already thinking out loud about what will follow the collapse of the Senate deal, which they now expect. If Republicans attempt to offer amendments -- as is expected -- Democrats will oppose a rule to allow that to happen procedurally. If the GOP then tries to pass an amended bill, 'they will have to do it with their own votes,' said Rep. James Clyburn, (D- S.C.), a member of the leadership. Either scenario would kill the deal. If the GOP doesn't offer an up or down vote on the Senate deal, well, that would kill the deal, too. And then what? "Well, I say that then we wait for the new Congress to come in on Thursday. We'll have better numbers, more members on our side," said Clyburn. "Then we offer a new bill that they will like even less. They didn't like the 450 (thousand dollar in household income) floor on the tax increase? Let's see how much they like it when we push it back down to 250 (thousand)!" [HuffPost]
BUDGET DEAL RAISES DEFICIT $3.6 TRILLION: CBO - And that doesn't even factor in the lost tourism dollars from all those canceled staffer vacations to Sugar Mountain. Mike McAuliff: "The fiscal cliff deal adds $3.6 trillion to the deficit, over the next 10 years, at least technically. That's because while most people assumed most of the Bush-era tax cuts would be extended, the Congressional Budget Office must look only at what the law says. The law called for letting all the cuts expire, which would have brought in more than $4 trillion. The fiscal cliff deal lets most of that revenue go, letting rates increase only for single filers above $400,000 and $450,000 for couples." [HuffPost]
See the report here
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - More than 2 million unemployed people have been cut off from unemployment insurance, and are now forced to watch C-SPAN and read newsletters to find out when their benefits might start again. [Hang in there!]
BECAUSE YOUR HOLIDAY PLANS WERE RUINED - Bulldog puppy tries to psych out cat. There's a fiscal cliff metaphor in there somewhere but we're too sleep-deprived to articulate one.
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