It should be simple. Take a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats in the house, and make a deal. It would rip apart the Republicans and expose divisions like never before - but I'm sure that doesn't bother the Democrats, and Boehner doesn't have much of a choice.
But something changed.
Boehner tried his "Plan B." It should have gathered a minority of Republicans and majority of Democrats... But he couldn't get the votes.
What that exposes is to things:
1) The speaker is horribly out of touch with his caucus, and
2) Republicans in Congress are more united than they would appear at first glance.
The insanity of this is pretty obvious. The "fiscal cliff" is entirely man-made. Had the Republicans thought more strategically they would have never tied so much to one period of time... It was a self imposed host taking.
Instead they would have split up the "cliff" into a variety of mini-cliffs. Each one could have been a negotiating period where a series of issue by issue reforms would tackled. Tax reform. Entitlements. Defense spending...etc.
When these negotiations started I was convinced that the Republicans would self implode and a deal would get passed before Dec 31.
Now, with this test of confidence in Boehner's leadership, I no longer believe it will happen.
A deal requires two parties that can agree on something. Washington can only agree on a variety of small things... But they don't have a variety of small things on the table - all they have is big things that no one agrees on.