**UPDATED, see below**
Okay, all 53 Senate Democrats didn't employ that exact phrasing in their joint letter to the Speaker of the House last night, but the takeaway is undeniable:
Fifty-three Democratic senators have signed a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner saying they intend to vote against his plan for an increase in the debt ceiling, virtually assuring its defeat in the Senate even as the speaker lines up Republican votes to pass it in the House on Thursday.
Votes are not final until they are cast. But if the Democrats hold to their promise in the letter, Mr. Boehner’s plan for a six-month increase in borrowing authority will not make it to President Obama’s desk. In the letter, the senators argue that a short-term extension of the debt ceiling would “put America at risk” and “could be nearly as disastrous as a default.”
My headline wasn't too far off, was it? The full text of the letter is available in the Times piece linked above.
On some level, you've got to marvel at the gigantic set of shameless cajones these people have. These are the same Senate Democrats who have disregarded federal statute by deliberately refusing to even introduce a budget for the last 820 days -- well over two years -- for nakedly political reasons. They have, however, defeated every Republican-proposed budget they could get their hands on. They've sat idly by as the debt ceiling debate has raged on for weeks, blithely voting to "table" the House-passed Cut, Cap, and Balance plan, despite its overwhelming public popularity. As of this moment, they still have not voted on a single plan of their own. Now, again, they're priming the pump for another snippy rejection of a solution proposed by somebody else. In this case, it's a plan their own leader accepted as recently as five days ago, before he pulled a whiplash-inducing 180 when the president signaled his self-serving disapproval. On Sunday, it was a bipartisan path forward. Now it's a sickening "big wet kiss" to the right-wing.
Yesterday morning, this gang was "gleeful" over the prospect of Boehner's plan falling short in the House. Now that the votes appear to be falling into place, they've reverted back to their familiar role: Obstinate, reflexive obstructionists. Their legislation -- the first debt solution they've lifted a finger to produce in more than two years -- really isn't all that dissimilar to Boehner's. Sure, it relies on more budget gimmicks, falls short of its cuts goal by a cool half-trillion, and guts the military, but its main provisions bear a striking resemblance to the bill they're lining up to tear down. Why? Because Boehner's bill thrusts the issue of debt and deficits back onto the front burner before The One faces voters next year. Reid's alternative spares the president this inconvenience. That is their motivation: The political protection of this president. He's all but admitted as much himself.
Yes, these Senate Democrats have once again outdone themselves. They have no budget, they oppose a balanced budget, and they prefer a national default to a debt plan that forces their political party to confront an uncomfortable issue in an election year. I hope voters in Nebraska, West Virginia, Montana, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are paying attention to this loathsome spectacle.
UPDATE - If Boehner's plan passes tonight, Reid plans to use a number of parliamentary tools at his disposal to kill it immediately:
Often scheduling a vote in the Senate requires more than a two day wait. But to expedite the process, and to prove as swiftly as possible that Boehner's plan is DOA in the Senate, Reid will move to table the bill. All Democrats will vote to table the legislation, Reid has said, and then it's on to the next step.
In Senatese, from a leadership source: "As soon as the Senate receives the House Message (Boehner bill), a motion to concur with the House Message is made. The Leader moves to table the motion to concur (majority vote threshold). The Boehner plan is defeated in the Senate."
Reid's spokesman triumphantly tweets, "Boehner's bill dies tonight. Forever." Party of ideas, new tone, etc. Jay Carney now deduces that because Boehner's plan is DOA in the Senate, but Reid's plan isn't explicitly DOA in the House, Republicans are holding the economy hostage. In other words, because Reid is shouting "no!" loudest and fastest, it's incumbent on Republicans to pass Democrats' bill, or else they're obstructing progress (or "life on this planet," as Pelosi might call it). Can someone explain this line of reasoning* to me?
*A generous characterization, I realize.
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