Apparently the House Republican leadership was deeply spooked by that NBC poll which found both GOP and Tea Party favorability ratings at all-time lows. They've produced a fiscal deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government that's hard to read as anything other than a whimpering defeat:
House Republicans hope to vote Tuesday on a more conservative version of the Senate fiscal deal that would include a delay of ObamaCare's medical device tax and scrapping of subsidies for members of Congress and top Cabinet officials, lawmakers and aides said.
The bill would modify an emerging Senate plan crafted by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), but retain that deal's extension of the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.
It would also keep the Senate measure's plan of funding the government through Jan. 15 and immediately end the shutdown.
If this passes, the GOP will have "won" two concessions on Obamacare: no more subsidies for top government officials and a two-year delay on the medical devices tax. The first of these is a nice touch, but entirely symbolic. Yanking Tom Vilsack's handout eligibility does nothing to beat back the law or ameliorate its toxic effects. The second of these, the medical devices tax delay, is downright pathetic. The tax, which has helped dry up investment in the medical device industry and kill thousands of jobs, is widely regarded as bad policy, so much so that the Senate voted to symbolically repeal it earlier this year by a margin of 79-20. Why so much Democrat support? Because the purpose of the tax was the same as the purpose of that ludicrous 1099 IRS reporting requirement: to provide a fig leaf of deficit-neutrality so Obamacare could pass Congress. Now that the law is merrily being implemented without regard to cost, there's no reason to preserve the revenue-raising measures. Republicans delaying—not even repealing—the medical devices tax is hardly lopping a limb off Obamacare; it's more like clipping an extraneous fingernail.
Then again, I suppose it's better than the Senate plan which would merely apply stricter income standards for subsidies. Ah, but it would also "create a bicameral conference to come to a long-term tax and spending plan, with a report due by December 13," according to National Journal. Democrats must be quaking in their boots knowing that Senate Republicans are hell-bent on extracting another report from them.
There's still the chance that House conservatives will vote down the deal. But if these are the terms on which Boehner and McConnell are negotiating, it looks like another Republican rout.