Who Won? Boehner.

Rich Galen
By Rich Galen | August 2, 2011 | 5:55 AM EDT

Dear Mr. Mullings:

Open the calendar app on your iPad and tell us what day this is. (tap, tap, tap)
And where was our MULLINGS for Monday?
It's August. I only write twice a week in August because it's … August.
Well, PARDON us for not putting that little fact in our perpetual datebook
No problem

Last week it was all "Boehner Embarrassed," "Boehner Loses Control," "Boehner Speakership in Peril," and so on.

That was last week. So … what was. Yesterday was a new week, a new vote, a new deal and the House adopted the bill to raise the debt limit and cut just shy of a trillion dollars in spending by a vote of 269-161.

174 Republicans voted for the bill; 66 voted against. Democrats split 95-95. Three Democrats didn't vote.

If Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz), who was wounded by a gunshot wound to her head in January, could make it to the floor to vote - in a very moving moment which helped ease the end of a very tumultuous week - I'd love to hear the excuses of those three.

Last week, the Speaker had to postpone a vote on his package for about 18 hours so he could round up enough Republican votes to pass a bill which would receive no Democrat support. He was roundly, if metaphorically, booed and had overripe fruit thrown in his direction by the geniuses on cable TV.

The reality was, he needed to have a bill passed by House Republicans before the Senate voted on Majority Leader Harry Reid's legislation because without it Boehner would have been negotiating from a flat rock. Only Reid's bill would have been alive.

Over the weekend, Boehner had those Republican votes - however difficult to round up - in his pocket when he and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell negotiated with President Barack Obama and Harry Reid.

Without that vote last week, Boehner and McConnell would have been able to be in the room, but they would have been on defense.

As it was, Senate Democrats tabled the bill passed by the House but that was just procedural. Everyone within shouting distance of the Capitol Building knew it wasn't whether Reid and Obama would fold, it was whether they would fold and have to put away the tables and chairs, sweep the floors, pay the dealer, and be the designated drivers.

They did.


The bill that passed the House yesterday and will likely pass the Senate today is S. 365 which was originally titled "An original bill to make a technical amendment to the Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002" and was introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) in February.

Then, somewhere along its legislative journey (as in "Gonna take a legislative journey; legislative journey home …" it got morphed into the "Budget Control Act of 2011."

Go figure.


Boehner and later McConnell maneuvered Obama and Reid into a position where they had almost no leverage. Note that half the Democrat caucus in the House told their President "thanks anyway," and voted against the legislation that would keep the U.S. government from defaulting on its loans.

Let's talk about that a second.

I had one economics class at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750. It was at eight o'clock in the morning and, after the first day, I never went back. So, my economics background is a bit, shall we say, thin.

I have no idea whether the world would have stopped spinning on its financial axis if we missed a debt payment today but here's my position on why it was a good idea not to tempt fate.

If you toss a cigarette out of a moving car the high probably is, it will harmlessly burn itself out. But there is a chance that it rolls into a ditch filled with dry leaves, which catch on fire, and spread out to a 10,000 acre wildfire destroying 34 houses and injuring tens of firefighters.

That might or might not happen. But what we know with absolute certainty is: If you put that cigarette out in the car's ashtray that wildfire would never happen.

Same with raising the debt limit. We will now not default and so the financial wildfire will not happen.

Over the next weeks and months who said what to whom during which meeting will begin to leak out but the result will still be the same.

Boehner won.

On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Gabby Giffords appearance on the House Floor, to S. 365, and to Boehner's interview with CBS' Scott Pelley. Also a pretty good license plate Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.