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.

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.