Commentary Magazine


Topic: payroll tax cut

Now for the Fallout on Payroll Deal

The payroll deal is is being billed as a House Republican defeat, and from a political optics standpoint it is. But the deal, which was passed by unanimous consent, actually isn’t bad for Republicans, especially considering some of the new language that was inserted:

The deal entails a new bill with language protecting small businesses from a measure in the Senate bill that creates temporary new caps on the wages that are subject to payroll tax relief, a Republican aide said. Sen. Harry Reid accepted the House Republicans’ proposal late this afternoon.

The bill will be passed by unanimous consent, which would not require all the members to return for a vote.

Read More

The payroll deal is is being billed as a House Republican defeat, and from a political optics standpoint it is. But the deal, which was passed by unanimous consent, actually isn’t bad for Republicans, especially considering some of the new language that was inserted:

The deal entails a new bill with language protecting small businesses from a measure in the Senate bill that creates temporary new caps on the wages that are subject to payroll tax relief, a Republican aide said. Sen. Harry Reid accepted the House Republicans’ proposal late this afternoon.

The bill will be passed by unanimous consent, which would not require all the members to return for a vote.

It’s a minor consolation, but at least an acknowledgement that Republican concerns about the impact a two-month payroll tax extension would have on businesses were legitimate. Coupled with the fact that the bill will force the Obama administration to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, it represents a small victory for the GOP. Though as plenty of conservative pundits and bloggers have pointed out, this is one that wasn’t necessarily worth the political cost.

The idea that congressional Republicans “caved” to Obama will play into the narrative that the president’s fortunes are improving. Some see the standoff as the reason why Obama’s approval ratings have had a modest bounce this week, though that explanation may not be entirely accurate. At FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver thinks the poll boost is due to economic factors, not congressional gridlock:

The White House got a good headline number in this month’s unemployment report, with the unemployment rate dropping to 8.6 percent from 9 percent. Although the details of the report were not as strong, the findings have been bolstered by a steady decline in the number of initial claims for unemployment insurance, which are at their lowest levels since 2008. Meanwhile, housing starts are upretail sales figures have been reasonably good, and various regional and national manufacturing indexes are generally coming in above expectations.

That does make a little more sense. With the holidays approaching, Americans are likely more focused on their families and vacation plans than the tedious payroll tax battle. The standoff didn’t reach the same level of media saturation that the debt-ceiling battle did during the summer, so the image damage may not be as bad for Republicans as it could have been otherwise.

Read Less

McConnell Breaks Silence on Payroll Tax

Now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly calling on House Speaker Boehner to just take the two-month payroll tax extension deal, House Republicans aren’t going to be able to hold out much longer:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday urged House Republicans to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, putting greater pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to act.

McConnell said House passage of a Senate-approved payroll tax relief package “locks in” legislative language requiring President Obama to speed up his timetable for approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Read More

Now that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is publicly calling on House Speaker Boehner to just take the two-month payroll tax extension deal, House Republicans aren’t going to be able to hold out much longer:

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday urged House Republicans to pass a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, putting greater pressure on House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to act.

McConnell said House passage of a Senate-approved payroll tax relief package “locks in” legislative language requiring President Obama to speed up his timetable for approving the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Ed Morrissey writes that Obama had a press conference scheduled for 1 p.m., which could signal an agreement. In exchange for the House passing the two-month extension, the Senate will likely reconvene after the New Year to hammer out a year-long deal.

Setting the narrative, Boehner blasted out a read-out of his phone call with Obama earlier today, in which the president apparently rejected the idea that a deal could be reached before January 1:

“Today, Speaker Boehner called President Obama to discuss the Speaker’s desire to provide a full year of tax relief for American families before December 31. With Senator Reid having declined to call his Members back to Washington this week to join the House in negotiating a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, the Speaker proposed that the president send members of his economic policy team up to Congress to find a way to accommodate the president’s full-year request. The Speaker explained his concern that flaws in the Senate-passed bill will be unworkable for many small business job creators. He reiterated that if their shared goal is a one-year bill, there is no reason an agreement cannot be reached before year’s end. The president declined the Speaker’s offer.”

House Republicans have little choice but to take the deal to negotiate a year-long extension with Democrats in early January – a token gesture that gives the appearance that the House GOP isn’t walking away empty-handed. This is a perfect affirmation of the phrase “choose your battles wisely.” After a lot of noise and some political damage, House Republicans will probably get very little out of this standoff.

Read Less

Capitol Hill Fiasco Again Shows Why Obama is No Pushover

Watching House Republicans steer their party straight into a ditch over their failure to pass a version of the payroll tax cut has been like observing a car crash in slow motion. But along with the backbiting and second-guessing that have done little to enhance the reputation of the GOP House caucus or that of their leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the debacle also ought to illustrate to Republicans the political resiliency of President Obama and the fact that a GOP victory in the 2012 election is not a foregone conclusion.

That’s an important lesson. Many Republicans have approached the presidential nomination process as if any GOP candidate with a pulse could beat Obama. The ease with which the president has run rings around Boehner on the payroll tax cut not only should bring back disturbing memories of how Bill Clinton beat Newt Gingrich like a drum back in the 1990s but should also show what happens when ideological inflexibility on the part of the GOP allows the Democratic incumbent to play to the center as well as to the left. A few more debacles like this one and Obama won’t have to channel Harry Truman in order to portray his opponents as do-nothing losers.

Read More

Watching House Republicans steer their party straight into a ditch over their failure to pass a version of the payroll tax cut has been like observing a car crash in slow motion. But along with the backbiting and second-guessing that have done little to enhance the reputation of the GOP House caucus or that of their leaders John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the debacle also ought to illustrate to Republicans the political resiliency of President Obama and the fact that a GOP victory in the 2012 election is not a foregone conclusion.

That’s an important lesson. Many Republicans have approached the presidential nomination process as if any GOP candidate with a pulse could beat Obama. The ease with which the president has run rings around Boehner on the payroll tax cut not only should bring back disturbing memories of how Bill Clinton beat Newt Gingrich like a drum back in the 1990s but should also show what happens when ideological inflexibility on the part of the GOP allows the Democratic incumbent to play to the center as well as to the left. A few more debacles like this one and Obama won’t have to channel Harry Truman in order to portray his opponents as do-nothing losers.

Republican optimism about 2012 is rooted in a situation that ought to make them the odds-on favorites next year to win back the White House. The president has historically low poll numbers and a terrible economic record. Even the Obama-friendly New York Times conceded this morning in a front-page article that hopes for a recovery are misplaced and economic growth will likely ground to a halt in the first half of 2012.

But as poor as his leadership has been, Obama has all the advantages of incumbency. He also has the ability to demagogue congressional Republicans in a manner that can help shape the contours of the coming election. A campaign that tilts as far to the left (as his appears to be doing) may have trouble attracting independents. But what Obama is trying to do is to set up his opponents as being not merely a band of right-wing extremists who care nothing about working people but also as a pack of incorrigible incompetents.

Such charges may be as unfair as the Democrats’ Mediscare attacks on Paul Ryan’s attempt to reform entitlements, yet after the ill-managed debt-ceiling crisis and this month’s tax cut shenanigans, it’s a label that may well stick.

It’s no surprise that the GOP presidential candidates have run for cover on the payroll tax cut issue. But above all, this episode should concentrate the minds of Republicans on the fact that the general election will be the fight of their lives, not the walkover some partisans expect.

Read Less

How Republicans Can Save Face on the Payroll Tax Fiasco

On Fox News last night, Karl Rove outlined how the House GOP can backtrack on their payroll tax cut position, while still holding on to a bit of dignity:

“The only way to win it is to sit there and ruin their own Christmases and wait until the president heads off to Hawaii for his, and then lambast the Democrats for having abdicated their responsibility of passing a year-long tax cut,” Rove said.

“There’s only one way out of it,” he continued. “Is to stay in Washington, wait until President Obama gets on an airplane and heads for Hawaii, and then hold a session in the House, vote the two-month extension and use the opportunity to beat up on the now long absent Democrats and Harry Reid and the absent president and say look – this is going to not be good for the companies that have to write the paychecks.”

Read More

On Fox News last night, Karl Rove outlined how the House GOP can backtrack on their payroll tax cut position, while still holding on to a bit of dignity:

“The only way to win it is to sit there and ruin their own Christmases and wait until the president heads off to Hawaii for his, and then lambast the Democrats for having abdicated their responsibility of passing a year-long tax cut,” Rove said.

“There’s only one way out of it,” he continued. “Is to stay in Washington, wait until President Obama gets on an airplane and heads for Hawaii, and then hold a session in the House, vote the two-month extension and use the opportunity to beat up on the now long absent Democrats and Harry Reid and the absent president and say look – this is going to not be good for the companies that have to write the paychecks.”

It’s a meager political consolation for passing a useless bill and missing the holidays, but at least it’s something. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that the House Republicans will have to fold on the payroll tax cut extension and accept the two-month Senate deal – they know the alternative of letting the cuts expire is self-destructive – and now it’s just a matter of when they’ll do it. Waiting until Obama blinks and leaves for his $4 million trip to Hawaii would be the best time to do it.

ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that the standoff will likely drag on for awhile anyway, since some House Republicans don’t want to be seen as giving up too easily:

The issue: rank and file Republicans think the Senate bill is “atrociously bad.” They don’t want their leadership to give up so quickly after voting overwhelmingly to reject it yesterday.

“Our members expect us to spend some time explaining and defending what we did – even if we are playing from a disadvantageous position,” said the House Republican aide.

This aide agrees that the payroll tax cut will almost certainly be extended before January 1 and that Republicans will likely be forced to accept the two-month extension, but he warns that the standoff may go on for several more days.

With two days to go until Christmas Eve, it sounds like House Republicans will be following Rove’s advice, whether they want to or not.

Read Less

House GOP Plays into Obama’s Hands on Payroll Tax Extension

The two-month payroll tax extension the Senate approved and the House voted down today is by no means good policy. In fact, it’s a payroll-processing disaster. But if House Republicans were adamantly dead-set against the two-month extension, they could have made this clear at any point before the Senate vote on Saturday. Now that the Senate has left town for the holidays, demanding lawmakers return to negotiate a year-long payroll tax extension is a bit ridiculous:

Speaking minutes later at a press conference with dozens of GOP members behind him, House Speaker John Boehner said the House has already taken up the Senate bill, which only gives a $166 tax break to Americans, and opted instead for a bill that gives $1,000 to contributors to the Social Security fund.

“We rejected the Senate bill and we moved to go to conference,” he said. “We’ve done our work for the American people, now it’s up to the president and the Senate to do their work as well.”

Read More

The two-month payroll tax extension the Senate approved and the House voted down today is by no means good policy. In fact, it’s a payroll-processing disaster. But if House Republicans were adamantly dead-set against the two-month extension, they could have made this clear at any point before the Senate vote on Saturday. Now that the Senate has left town for the holidays, demanding lawmakers return to negotiate a year-long payroll tax extension is a bit ridiculous:

Speaking minutes later at a press conference with dozens of GOP members behind him, House Speaker John Boehner said the House has already taken up the Senate bill, which only gives a $166 tax break to Americans, and opted instead for a bill that gives $1,000 to contributors to the Social Security fund.

“We rejected the Senate bill and we moved to go to conference,” he said. “We’ve done our work for the American people, now it’s up to the president and the Senate to do their work as well.”

House Republicans are insisting on a year-long extension of the break and want to force the Senate to return to Washington to hammer out a compromise.

Do House Republicans honestly expect Sen. Harry Reid to reconvene the Senate at this point? Especially when the House GOP’s brinkmanship plays completely into President Obama’s hands? If there was any doubt that Obama is thrilled with this development, here he is this afternoon dusting off his class warfare rhetoric to blast the House GOP for risking a middle-class tax hike:

In a surprise visit to the White House briefing room to demand House Republicans compromise on the legislation — a demand that was promptly rejected —  President Obama said Tuesday that the Senate bill “is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st.”

“It’s the only one,” Obama said shortly after the House voted to effectively reject a Senate measure to extend the payroll tax cut for two months.

The behavior from House Republicans would be completely understandable — even laudable — if this was a serious ideological battle for conservatives. But it’s not –Speaker John Boehner and others seem to be opposing the two-month payroll tax extension on logistical grounds, arguing that a year-long extension would be easier to implement. House Republicans already won a victory by getting a provision to force Obama’s hand on Keystone XL included in the Senate bill. Aggressiveness is wonderful, but there comes a point when you need to know when to fold ‘em.

Read Less

The “Do-Nothing” Senate?

All of President Obama’s denunciations of the “do-nothing Congress” and fiery appeals for lawmakers to “pass this jobs bill now” may be blowing up in his face. Yesterday, the House approved one of the key pieces of Obama’s jobs bill, but also inserted a provision that would greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline construction. Now it’s the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama (who vowed to veto the legislation if its passed) standing in the way of the jobs bill:

Defiant Republicans pushed legislation through the House Tuesday night that would keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for some 160 million Americans at President Barack Obama’s request — but also would require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has sparked a White House veto threat.

Read More

All of President Obama’s denunciations of the “do-nothing Congress” and fiery appeals for lawmakers to “pass this jobs bill now” may be blowing up in his face. Yesterday, the House approved one of the key pieces of Obama’s jobs bill, but also inserted a provision that would greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline construction. Now it’s the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Obama (who vowed to veto the legislation if its passed) standing in the way of the jobs bill:

Defiant Republicans pushed legislation through the House Tuesday night that would keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for some 160 million Americans at President Barack Obama’s request — but also would require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline that has sparked a White House veto threat.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already warned Republicans that the bill has no shot in the Senate. It passed on a party-line vote in the House, with only 10 Democratic members supporting it after it had already cleared the bar.

Sure, the move is purely political. But so was Obama’s choice to delay a decision on the Keystone XL until after the election. Plus, the payroll tax cut continuation bill may not have received as much Republican support as it did if it hadn’t included the Keystone provision:

Highlighting the confrontation with Obama over the Keystone pipeline, [House Speaker John] Boehner has been able to win over conservatives who were initially opposed to the president’s push to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits. In addition to the Keystone provision, Republicans included measures delaying environmental regulations, limiting the duration of jobless benefits and restricting benefits for illegal immigrants, among other sweeteners. They proposed to offset the cost of the bill in part by extending a federal-worker pay freeze and reducing certain Medicare benefits for the wealthy.

Senate Republicans blocked a quick vote on the legislation today, arguing that Reid and Boehner should work out the differences. Senate Republicans are trying to pressure Democrats to focus on passing a spending bill to keep the government running, but Democrats are reportedly withholding their support until the payroll tax cut continuation goes through.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.