After Eric Cantor and the GOP picked up their toys and left their debt-reduction talks with Vice President Biden late last month, Boehner pushed Obama to come up with a "big deal" that would be an actual compromise for both parties: massive entitlement fund reductions as well as raising taxes on the rich and closing corporate loopholes. The deal—which would have cut the deficit by $4 trillion, resolved the impending debt ceiling crisis, and boosted the economy—is dead, with Boehner pulling his support yesterday in capitulation to the right-wing members of his party.

Nevermind that cutting the deficit in hard times is a bad idea, or that voters don't care about the deficit anyway: Obama called Boehner's bluff and promised huge cuts in entitlement spending, if the GOP could agree to corporate and individual tax hikes of $100 billion a year for 10 years. But because, as the Wall Street Journal puts it, "a tax increase pure and simple…violate[s] the GOP's campaign pledge," House Republicans don't have the stomach for it (or more importantly, corporate lobbies don't) so the negotiations will be kicked back to the Biden group.

The president is scheduled to make his case tonight for the larger deal to House leaders, but without Boehner's support it's a non-starter. What remains is a victory for "pragmatism," meaning smaller deficit cuts and even tinier tax increases, if they get any at all.