Thursday, December 22, 2011

House Agrees to Payroll Tax Holiday Extension

After passing the one year payroll tax holiday extension requested by President Obama, House Republicans fought off the Senate's watered down bill which would only give a two month extension of the tax holiday. The fight came to an end today as Speaker Boehner agreed to call for an Unanimous Consent vote on agreeing to pass the two month extension and then the conference committee will meet to work out the one year extension with the Senate after Christmas.

The farthest of the conservative right are whining about Boehner blinking and caving to President Obama and the Senate. It's not that simple, though, and that is the problem. The Democrats were gaining ground in smugly taking credit for being more compassionate to the middle class taxpayer than Republicans who were, in fact, fighting for a reasonable and longer tax holiday. That was not a good place to be in and Speaker Boehner knew when to stop the bleeding.

The Wall Street Journal does a good job explaining just how absurd the jam the Republicans were in was in the first place.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible.

Ponder that. The Republicans were in the situation where they were the ones looking like they were the anti-tax holiday opponents. The one issue that Republicans are supposed to be consistent on - tax cuts for all Americans - and the Democrats were winning the public relations battle. The media is only too happy to chime in and allow such battles to favor the President and the Democrats - their team, after all - and that is exactly what happened.

So, let them all say that Boehner blinked. Or caved. So what? He will be able to say he compromised. Despite what the newbies to political discourse would have you believe, compromise is not a bad word. It is how policy is put forward. What wasn't bold headlines - thanks to the Obama-centric press - is that the tax hike to "millionaires and billionaires" desired by the Democrats to pay for the tax holiday has been eliminated from the bill. That is a good thing and Senate Republicans won that battle.

The battle was lost this time for Republicans, thanks to some awkward political maneuvering. The war, however, continues. That is the spending cuts that will be necessary to pay for the tax holiday as the bill goes to conference. During the two month extension, the House and Senate will have to figure out how to pay for the year long version. That war is very likely to be won by the Republicans.

No comments: