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Eric Cantor, after his caucus nixed Boehner's 'Plan B'
Last night's abrupt demise of John Boehner's "Plan B" for avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff seems to have taken Republican leadership by complete surprise. So what happened in last night's GOP self-immolation? The short answer is, as always, that the hard-right members of the party wouldn't go along with it. Putting that diplomatically:
One source explained that while members appeared sympathetic to Boehner’s efforts, they were adamant that they wouldn’t go along with the Kabuki theater the plan entailed — passing a measure that Obama would reject; sending it to the Senate to reduce the income levels of tax increases from $1 million to something closer to $500,000 or $600,000 a year; and then re-passing the bill in the House, this time with Democratic support.

The source said that a number of lawmakers told Boehner bluntly: “If this was the final deal, I’d be there for you. But the Senate’s not going to pass it.”

So the hardliners weren't even willing to hand Boehner a Republican-backed anything he could send to the Senate, because they were afraid that the resulting, Senate-softened bill would come back to them with things that the far-right members couldn't support—but that House Democrats might. So they scuttled the whole thing.

That's a huge blow to Boehner, and it also suggests that there's literally no compromise to be worked out between the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate. Plan B was supposed to be "it" for Boehner. If his hardliners scuttled even that, there's nothing more Boehner can do that doesn't rely on Democrats bailing him out.

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