The plan is this: suspend the debt ceiling until May 19 while allowing the president to borrow enough to fund government expenditures until then. That will essentially reorder the legislative fights in their favor, Republicans believe, allowing them to focus on the sequester and funding for the government first and the debt ceiling later. [...]Okay ... so Republicans think the debt ceiling is going to be a losing issue in four months the same as it is now and don't want to make an issue of it. That makes today's vote look much less like surrender! So they're going to focus on entitlement reform and the tax code sometime soon, and will totally win that fight. Except that Republican positions on entitlement reform and taxes are wildly unpopular with the public, and an organic bubbling of the subjects won't change that fact. Republicans will still be holding things voters like hostage and demanding things voters don't like.
GOP aides acknowledge that the elaborate plan might fail, but their goal is simple: If the Senate in fact passes a budget, a conversation about entitlement reform and rewriting the Tax Code will organically bubble to the surface. If they can move ahead with drastic changes to mandatory spending and tax reform after a debate over each chamber’s budget, lifting the debt ceiling again would be an afterthought.
So the far right of the Republican party rightly sees the debt limit extension as a surrender, and may be unwilling to vote for it. Meanwhile, Greg Sargent reports, Democrats are trying to throw Boehner an anvil by whipping No votes on the debt limit vote, forcing him to come up with enough Republican votes to pass it. Boehner can only lose 16 of his members before he has to rely on Democratic votes:
So House GOP leaders have given conservatives some incentives to vote for the debt ceiling extension. According to Jonathan Weisman and Conn Carroll, House conservatives are being offered a deal: If they support today’s measure, Republican leaders will allow the sequestered spending cuts to go forward (or find equivalent cuts elsewhere) and will also produce a budget that balances in 10 years.Which they will not actually do, because House Republicans don't want the sequester to happen and can't come up with a budget that balances in 10 years that doesn't include significant new revenue, at least not if they ever want to win an election ever again. Basically, the one win House Republicans can get out of the debt limit vote is not making themselves more unpopular than they already are and taking a couple months to regroup and hope they go into the next fight less hated by the public. All the rest of their claims about how this is strategy not surrender are theater.