This month, so far, is turning out very well for the White House. The Republicans are already caving on the debt ceiling increase, despite all the apocalypse talk from the pundits. Not only have House Republicans reportedly made peace with the reality of their diminished power and inability to extract concessions, but their Senate colleagues (including the powerful Minority Whip) are explicitly reversing tough talk about government shutdowns and acknowledging that the debt ceiling is going to go up and they can’t do much about it or set the terms. The White House is about to walk away two months early with a ceiling raise and no ransom-style spending cuts.
And the caving is coming alongside the apparent abandonment of the “Hastert Rule” that I discussed earlier this month. Essentially, under that rule, Speaker Boehner would have to get support from a majority of the (heavily extremist) House Republicans to pass something, but without that rule he can just go get the House Democrats to vote it through with a couple dozen moderate Republicans. That immediately moderates any deals toward the center because the more conservative House Republicans lose their obstruction capacities and bargaining leverage. They can either cut a reasonable deal or watch as an even worse — from their perspective — deal goes through without their input.