[Aaaand the Republican faction caved. Update below.] President Obama and George Bush's mastermind Karl Rove are in agreement that the House Republicans are out of their freaking minds for blocking an extension to the payroll tax cuts enacted last year. Although 89 Senators voted in favor of the two-month extension, which affects about 160 million Americans, House Speaker John Boehner is going along with the hard-right fiscal Conservative monsters spawned by the Tea Party and refusing to call it to a vote. And thus, strange bedfellows have come together to try and shame the Republicans into passing the extension.
"This is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington," Obama said at a press conference today. "Has this place become so dysfunctional that when even people agree to something we can't do it?" Boehner, for his part, told reporters today, "Politics will be politics. If you do the right thing for the right reasons, then the right things will happen. Everybody’s already agreed that the best policy is a one-year extension." Average middle-income workers could lose about $40 from each paycheck if the tax cut expires, Democrats say.
The tax cut is due to expire in nine days. Today Boehner called Obama to again press for a one-year extension to the two-percentage-point tax cut, but Business Week reports that Obama is demanding the House first pass a two-month measure that cleared the Senate on Dec. 17th. But Boehner and some Republicans say the two-month extension is unworkable, because most businesses file their taxes on a quarterly basis. And it goes without saying they'd rather obstruct Obama than let the middle class catch a break.
Many Democrats are also in favor of a one-year extension, but the two parties are at odds on how to pay for it, and Obama is insisting on a short-term extension because, as Brookings Institute analyst Tom Mann puts it, "There’s no real possibility of cutting a deal on a one-year extension before the end of the year. It’s foolish to think otherwise."
Even Rove agrees. In an interview with Fox News, he said Republicans "have lost the optics on it. The question now is how do the Republicans get out of it." Turd Blossom believes the best his fellow Republicans can hope for now is to "use it for political theater and then vote the two month extension and get out of town. The only way to win it is to just stick there and ruin their own Christmases and wait until the president heads off to Hawaii for his, and then lambaste the Democrats for having abdicated their responsibilities to pass a year-long tax cut." What was it Obama was saying about why people are so frustrated with Washington? We forgot, what with all this engrossing political theater and all.
Update 4:05 p.m.: The National Journal reports that House Republicans "crumpled under the weight of White House and public pressure and have agreed to pass a two-month extension of the 2 percent payroll-tax cut." The capitulation came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "agreed to appoint conferees to a committee to resolve differences between the Senate's two-month payroll-tax cut and the House's one-year alternative." Merry Christmas, you old Building & Loan! Zuzu's petals Zuzu's petals!