In case you haven’t heard, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor this morning withdrew from the budget negotiations being led by Vice President Joe Biden.
If you were surprised by this, you haven’t been reading CG&G. As I posted yesterday, all of the happy talk that has been coming from the budget talks should have been taken with a healthy dose of skepticism instead of the optimism that has been reported.
But it’s also not surprising because Cantor doesn’t represent a wing of the House Republicans that was ever going to vote for a deal on the debt ceiling. That’s why, while done in an overly dramatic way, his departure from the talks isn’t that meaningful. The question is whether Boehner has now been further forced into a corner and, as he did immediately after the Cantor story broke, has to appear to be holier than thou with the tea party.
The real balance of power on this vote is with the non tea party wing of the GOP and that’s a group with which Boehner has better credibility than Cantor. From my perspective, the only way Boehner can get them to go along is to wait until the last minute so it looks like he has driven the best possible deal and then hope that market jitters allow him and his colleagues to say that he has no choice. He’s only going to get about 100 GOP votes to pass a bill. That means that he can’t go too far right and expect the 118 Dem votes he’ll also need.