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Plan B Morphs Into a Conservative Wish List

House Republicans will wait until tonight to pass “Plan B,” and while I think ultimately it will pass, the reason they’re waiting so long is that they have to figure out what to put into it to get conservative votes. Erick Son of Erick has a whip list of 34 no votes and 12 leaners, and Republicans can only lose 23, assuming no Democratic crossovers. So leadership must sweeten the pot if they want to win the vote.

And the way you sweeten the pot for House Republicans is that you kick the poor a bit more while handing out some aid to Wall Street and Lockheed Martin. Here’s the template bill in question. Basically the sequester, the automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending, would get replaced by new cuts:

Cuts to food stamps that could knock millions of low-income Americans out of the program;

Cuts to Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors or other individuals who are unable to prepare their own food;

Cuts funding to health exchanges that will be created under Obamacare and funding for Medicaid included in the same law;

Cuts to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that will yield no cost savings, but will make bailouts of big banks more likely;

Denying the Child Tax Credit to the parents of American children, if the parents are undocumented immigrants.

(Editorial comment: Dodd-Frank won’t make bailouts less likely, but cuts to the resolution authority section of the law are unwise.)

So in essence, Republicans unhappy about passing a bill that cuts taxes on the rich and raises them on the poor will be placated by cutting spending for the poor and easing up on Wall Street and defense contractors. This has become a conservative wish list, basically.

And yet, because of the weird salience of tax rates throughout the debate, the leadership will still have trouble wrangling up the votes.

Photo by marioanima under Creative Commons license.

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David Dayen

David Dayen