Shockingly, the Huffington Post has better sources among Congressional Democrats than we do, so I read this story with no small degree of disgust:
Senate Democrats are expected to quickly kill House Speaker John Boehner's debt ceiling proposal if it passes the House on Thursday evening. But don't expect Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to then suddenly take up his own debt-ceiling package. A Senate Democratic aide told The Huffington Post that the party is unlikely to file for cloture on its plan immediately after Boehner's fails, hoping instead that the defeat of GOP's bill and the prospect of a Treasury default moving closer will compel Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to come to the negotiating table.
This means that Democrats do not have the votes to pass their own plan, an admission Sen. Kent Conrad made yesterday. As we reported earlier, they do have the votes to kill Republicans' third solution, and they plan to do just that upon its arrival -- assuming it passes the House. Leadership! Rather than presenting his own solution for a vote (after denying another solution an up-or-down, or even a cloture, vote), Reid hopes to entice Mitch McConnell to the negotiating table. What goodies might he offer the Republican leader? Democratic sources -- surprise -- won't get into too many specifics, but:
Democrats, from the White House on down, have insisted that they will not bend on their demand that a debt-ceiling bill go through the 2012 elections. Instead, Reid seems likely to offer McConnell other triggers. The most discussed proposal, publicly and privately, has been to allow for a vote on the so-called Gang of Six recommendations should the super committee remain deadlocked. Another option would be to enforce additional spending cuts -- and possibly revenue raisers -- on top of those already in the Reid plan.
Let me get this straight: Reid's blockbuster offer to McConnell would be to guarantee a vote on the disastrous Gang of Six proposal, plus the chance to agree to "revenue raisers"? In return, Reid would get his bill through, and Barack Obama would be sheltered from a high-profile debt debate until after his possible re-election -- which has emerged as Democrats' paramount concern. That's the sales pitch? I realize that some conservatives harbor a fairly low opinion of Sen. McConnell, but I would be absolutely stunned if he played along with this farce. This is not to say that McConnell shouldn't work to achieve a better deal if Democrats follow through on their vow to sink Boehner's plan. He should. But the conditions in this HuffPo piece are laughable. Also, since Democrats say they have a terrific plan, why not schedule a vote on it? Have Republicans threatened to filibuster Reid's proposal? I haven't heard any such report. Since you're so skilled at saying "no" to ideas you don't like, "leader" Reid, why not call up a vote on a bill to which your party is eager to say "yes"? How about it?
UPDATE - Heritage's Lachlan Markay reminds us that Reid could have dealt with this issue last year, but he chose not to...for political reasons:
Briefing reporters yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he's glad the debt ceiling was left out of this tax package. And he was unusually blunt about why: "That's something that we talked about," Reid said. "My personal feeling is that I'm not sure -- and a lot of my caucus doesn't agree on this -- but I think it may be better to do the debt ceiling, raise it next year rather than now." Why? "I want the Republicans to have some buy-in on the debt," he said.