Jason pointed us to this interview of Robert Costa of the National Review by Ezra Klein. I have been following Costa for the very latest reporting inside the Republican House caucus, and his reports have been some of the best:
EK: How much of this is a Boehner problem and how much of this is a House Republicans problem? Which is to say, if Boehner decided to retire tomorrow, is there another House Republican who has enough trust and allegiance in the conference that he or she could manage the institution more effectively?
RC: What we’re seeing is the collapse of institutional Republican power. It’s not so much about Boehner. It’s things like the end of earmarks. They move away from Tom DeLay and they think they’re improving the House, but now they have nothing to offer their members. The outside groups don’t always move votes directly but they create an atmosphere of fear among the members. And so many of these members now live in the conservative world of talk radio and tea party conventions and Fox News invitations. And so the conservative strategy of the moment, no matter how unrealistic it might be, catches fire. The members begin to believe they can achieve things in divided government that most objective observers would believe is impossible. Leaders are dealing with these expectations that wouldn’t exist in a normal environment.
Politico: “A harsh reality began setting into Capitol Hill on Tuesday: The U.S. government may not reopen until the two parties reach a deal to raise the national debt ceiling. Indeed, if the standoff continues to creep toward the Oct. 17 deadline to raise the $16.7 trillion national debt ceiling, the two issues will become intertwined — and potentially intractable. House Republican leaders and top Senate Democrats privately began discussing this increasingly likely possibility Tuesday, but the two sides have yet to engage in any direct negotiations in the acrimonious budget dispute.”
More Robert Costa:
“The same question keeps popping up: Why doesn’t Speaker John Boehner just pass a ‘clean’ continuing resolution to fund the government? It’s a ubiquitous query at the Capitol, and it was asked many times this afternoon as House Republicans left their closed-door conference meeting. But most Republicans, when pressed by reporters, rolled their eyes. They know what Boehner knows: A clean CR has never been an option…”
“Instead, the leadership is digging in for an extended impasse with Senate Democrats. Based on my latest conversations with insiders, their plan isn’t to eventually whip Republicans toward a clean CR and back down after a few days of messaging the shutdown, as some have believed; it’s to keep fighting, and, in the process, preserve the House GOP’s fragile unity — and maybe, if they’re lucky, win a concession from Senate majority leader Harry Reid.”