Last night's failure of House Speaker John Boehner's two day wonder "Plan B" is one more proof that the House Republicans are more commited to drown it in a bathtub nihilism than they are to public policy. This is what happens when we elect people who don't believe in governing to, well, govern.
This manufactured "fiscal cliff crisis" is the result of kicking the can down the road during another artificial crisis, the debt ceiling vote of summer 2011.
I know all about Godwin's law and I've been called names more than once. But as far as basic functionality, the US House is beginning to resemble the German Reichstag circa 1932, when a combination of Nazis and Communists, both committed to the destruction of the republic in different ways, combined to make governing impossible.
And we all know THAT didn't end well.
In parliamentary countries, a failure of leadership this big means you call a new election and start over. But thanks to that uniquely American institution, divided government, we have to play this hand for at least two more years, meeting the Einsteinian definition of insanity: doing the same thing over but expecting a different result.
OK, so with the restraints we have, what do we change?
The only hope I see is that Republicans are hoist on their own petard, that after the new year House Democrats, their numbers slightly boosted, can push through a plan more closely resembling the president's, and persuade enough Republicans to either join them or, more likely, abstain. If House Democrats hold completely solid, they need to pick up about a net 36 votes: 18 switches, 36 abstentions, or a combination of those.
They also need a Senate that's willing to let a plan pass with a simple majority, rather than a filibuster-proof super majority.
But reasonable, responsible Republicans are getting harder and harder to find. With districts increasingly safe, members are more worried about losing a Republican primary than about the general election.
So what I expect instead is: we go off this "cliff" and in artificial super-crisis mode, we enact something ill-considered. And it's long forgotten by the next election.