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What Boehner Should Do Now

10:08 AM, Jul 29, 2011 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Last night, Speaker Boehner toyed with adding a gimmicky balanced budget amendment provision to the Republican budget bill in order to try to get the final handful of votes he needs for passage. He thought better of this last night, and didn’t do so. He should continue to avoid pointless and embarrassing gimmicks to try to secure a last-gasp victory on the House floor. Such a tainted “win” would truly be dead on arrival in the Senate. And it would do nothing to increase McConnell's leverage, or Boehner's own, if and when a Senate-passed bill comes over to the House this weekend. Boehner only has leverage if his bill, as drafted and debated, passes—and even then he has less leverage than he had 48 hours ago. Still, he has done his best. He should bring his bill to a vote, and let the chips fall where they may. There are worse things than defeat with dignity—if defeat it is to be.

John Boehner

If the Republican bill loses today on the floor, or Boehner pulls it down, then Reid will take the lead, McConnell will cut a deal, and a Reid-McConnell bill will pass the Senate easily and then the House, with most House Democrats and lots of House Republicans voting yes. This won’t be an outcome that will destroy America, or end GOP hopes for 2012—but it’s not a good one either. The question is this: Will President Obama invite the House Republican defectors to the White House signing ceremony on Monday? They would deserve such recognition in honor of their role in weakening the Republican party in the House and the conservative movement in the country, increasing the chances of Obama securing a terrible Grand Bargain in several months when the Reid bill's supercommittee reports, and making it harder to defeat Obama in 2012.

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