Two influential conservative publications have bestowed their editorial blessing upon Speaker Boehner's debt limit compromise, which was on the ropes yesterday, but appears to have recovered after a furious and effective lobbying campaign by House leadership. The Wall Street Journal's editors sound a bit more enthusiastic than National Review's, but they all agree that Boehner's proposal is the most realistic and acceptable way forward at this juncture. A snippet from today's Journal house editorial:
It's true that the Boehner plan doesn't solve the long-term debt problem, but Mr. Obama won't agree to anything that does. The GOP plan also may not prevent a U.S. national credit downgrade, but it has a better chance of doing so than Mr. Reid's. The Boehner plan is the most credible proposal with a chance of becoming law before the 2012 election.
The Speaker has made mistakes in his debt negotiations, not least in trusting that Mr. Obama wants serious fiscal reforms. But thanks to the President's overreaching on taxes, Mr. Boehner now has the GOP positioned in sight of a political and policy victory. If his plan or something close to it becomes law, Democrats will have conceded more spending cuts than they thought possible, and without getting the GOP to raise taxes and without being able to blame Republicans for a debt-limit crackup or economic damage. If conservatives defeat the Boehner plan, they'll not only undermine their House majority. They'll go far to re-electing Mr. Obama and making the entitlement state that much harder to reform.
NR describes the perils of some conservatives' "just say no" mentality:
What House conservatives should not do, we think, is simply work to blow up the plan in the hope that wondrous things will happen when it explodes. Some of our friends in the House seem to think that if they push the stalemate far enough that the government hits the debt limit, victory will fall into their laps and scores of Democrats will go along with a constitutional amendment that requires balanced budgets and limits spending. It is more likely that, with Republicans having openly pushed for blowing the deadline, they will be blamed for any negative consequences. Senate Republicans may cut and run even before that point, isolating the House and making it more likely a that rump of House Republicans will work along with Democrats to pass something worse than the Boehner plan. The least likely outcome is that liberals will sign a suicide note by acquiescing, in the next week or two, to the enshrinement of conservative fiscal goals in the Constitution.
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton, a conservative stalwart, has also joined the chorus. After weighing the long-term political -- and therefore national security -- implications of the current debate, he's urging Republicans to line up behind Boehner's proposal:
All conservatives, especially those concerned with American national security, should support the Boehner Plan. That plan, as Speaker Boehner himself understands, is far from perfect. But there is no reasonable prospect, given the current political balance of power in Washington, to get anything better on the debt ceiling issue. We cannot know exactly how financial markets will react to the various scenarios that might play out over the next several days, but the potential cost of finding out what the defeat of the Boehner Plan would be is not worth the risk.
This coalescence of support among manjor conservative opinionmakers (Charles Krauthammer called Boehner's plan "an achievement" last night) will likely help grease the skids ahead of tomorrow's vote. For his part, Harry Reid is doing his best to slam the breaks on the plan, claiming that zero Democrats will vote for it in the Senate:
Even as House Republican leaders work to retool their deficit reduction package, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the plan will not get a single Democratic vote in the Senate, dooming it to fail. Speaking at a Wednesday press conference, Reid would not say when he planned to bring his own bill up for a vote, saying he is going to wait to see what the House does. Reid called Boehner's plan "a big wet kiss for the right wing."
In case you've forgotten, the plan Reid derides as a "big wet kiss for the right-wing" is nearly the spitting image of a framework he reportedly supported four days ago. I've been saying this a lot about Reid lately, but what a hack. The only way to tell if he's 'full of it' is for the House to pass the bill. I'd bet more than a handful of Senate Democrats are squirming over that prospect.