He just didn't have the votes. John Boehner, who custom-wrote this ridiculous "Plan B," couldn't even get it past his own caucus. Republicans have given birth to a monster—and it's themselves. Accustomed to getting everything they want out of Democrats by acting like petulant babies, the dystopians in the far, far right corner of the GOP turned that same shtick on their own leader and have reduced him to his now-routine tears, just as they did during the fight over the debt ceiling last year.
So where to next? It could get bloody. The simplest option would just be to pass a bill acceptable to a majority of Democrats and a (probably small) minority of Republicans—what few "mainstream," big business-type Republicans still loyal to Boehner are left. But that would mean the end of Boehner's speakership, as the rest of the GOP—remember, it would be the majority of the GOP left out in the cold here—would be enraged and could simply depose him ... and pick Eric Cantor as their new leader instead.
If Boehner decides that a life on the golf course (and K Street) is actually amenable to him, this could happen. Hell, it could even happen if he doesn't want it. If Cantor and the extremeophiles decide they sense an opportunity for a coup, Boehner could find himself out the door regardless.
But while an unlikely D + R coalition deal is hardly a good option from Boehner's perspective, it's not like there are any better alternatives. He can go back to his gang of wreckers and try to offer them plan C—that is, something even more outrageous. But that will just put off Boehner's day of reckoning, since he'll have to reach some kind of accord with the president and the Senate if he doesn't want to pull a Wile E. Coyote and take us straight off the cliff.
There's another distressing possibility, though, and one that's out of Boehner's hands. President Obama could decide to offer Boehner something that can get through the Republican caucus, just like how he caved on the debt ceiling (giving the GOP, in Boehner's words, "98 percent" of what they wanted). That could save Boehner's hide, avoid the cliff, and get a deal done—but what a lousy deal it would have to be, because if the ultranuts had an inkling that what they're voting on just might be acceptable to Obama, they'd probably freak out yet again.
So that's where things seem to be now for John Boehner: hurl us off the cliff, face GOP civil war, or wait for even more concessions from the president. And none of these look very pretty. 6:18 PM PT (Kaili Joy Gray):Stay tuned ...