NBC's First Read summarizes the current state of negotiations to lift the debt ceiling before the U.S. Treasury as running as running on three tracks: the talks between the White House and House Speaker John Boehner, the Gang of Six Senate plan, and the McConnell-Reid failsafe plan. But there is one little problem with all three plans: House Republicans aren't going to budge, unless they feel they absolutely must:
But all of this emphasizes one VERY important point right now: There is currently no plan out there that could get through the House. And that’s raised chatter on Capitol Hill that the only way to convince enough House Republicans to support ANY track is for the Dow Jones to collapse, a la what happened with TARP in 2008.
So, barring another historic stock market crash--in just one week in October 2008, the Dow Jones plummeted 21 percent--what will it take to convince House Republicans to budge? Last night Boehner tried something else: pizza. The speaker, along with his top staffers, and eight freshmen Republican freshmen Wednesday night stayed up late and chatted about the situation. Attendees told Politico's Jake Sherman and Marin Cogan that the meeting was a casual affair, with at least one congressman was wearing jeans, and the hallway outside stinking of cigarettes. It's not clear what they talked about. But with 12 days left for Congress to raise the debt ceiling or risk economic catastrophe, it's hard to imagine Boehner spent the evening joking about that one time they tricked that one congressman into looking for a pool on the roof.
Politico writes that the lawmakers insisted there was "no news to report" from inside the party--"it was simply a gathering and a way to chat with the speaker." But looking at the invite list might offer some clues as to what was going on: pizza eaters included Alabama's Martha Roby, Colorado's Cory Gardner, New York's Tom Reed, Kansas' Kevin Yoder, Illinois' Robert Dold and Adam Kinzinger, Arizona's Ben Quayle, and Washington's Jaime Herrera Beutler.
Who are these guys? They've all indicated they might be willing to compromise on a debt limit increase, notable given the Tea Party's influence on the 87-member freshman class. Roby, for example, touted her vote against raising the debt limit in May. But last week, she refused to sign a Tea Party pledge, citing the fluidity of negotiations. And yesterday, Roby voted for the "Cut, Cap, and Balance" proposal--which has no chance of passing the Senate--but added that "Other proposals continue to be suggested, and each deserves careful consideration." The other pizza partiers have similar histories. Last week, Reed said he was "optimistic" a deal could be reached before August 2, despite the fact that "The rhetoric on the debt ceiling is going to go to levels we’ve never seen before." Yoder showed his ambivalence when he noted that some people say the debt limit "shouldn't even be a political issue."
At about 9 p.m., after two hours of chit-chat behind closed doors, Boehner left the party and told Politico that the suggestion he stop and at least talk off the record was "the funniest proposition he heard all day." Poor Boehner--there must be a scarcity of funny jokes during the debt negotiations.