Everyone agrees: On Payroll tax cut, House GOP has finally gone over the top

  • Published on December 22nd, 2011

(Update: Boehner has caved.)

The mainstream media has pretty much given  the new House GOP majority a pass for most of the year. It hasn’t mattered how manipulative, mean-spirited, or over-the-top insane they have been; the MSM has stuck to its lazy, ludicrous Both Sides Do It narrative.

Which is probably why Boehner’s TeaBagger caucus decided to go for one more round of hostage-taking. Why the hell not? On everything from repeal of environmental regulations to the debt ceiling, they have learned a simple formula: Grab a hostage, demand the moon, and when the Democrats cave in and give it to them, demand even more.

But not this time. The entire  country heaved a sigh of tentative, temporary relief on Friday when it looked like both sides had finally struck a deal, just in the nick of time so that taxes wouldn’t go up on 150 million Americans on January 1st.

(Note: It’s also a lousy deal. It gave the Republicans just about everything they demanded, nothing the Dems asked for, and it’s only a two-month extension, meaning we have to go back to the table again – AFTER locking in the first round of Republican wins, including a fast-track for the horrible Keystone XL pipeline. If this is REALLY just a two-month extension so we have time to negotiate the full year-long deal, it should be a CLEAN BILL, not larded with goodies for the GOP.)

Even so, the Tea Partiers said “Not so fast.” And totally train-wrecked the deal. After getting everything they asked for.

But this time, the response was different. No more admiring – nay, swooning – “Republican tough guys play hardball” headlines. Maybe it was the remarkable spectacle of Harry Reid, Barack Obama, John McCain and Newt Gingrich all uniting to tell the House to “Sit down and shut up;” but whatever the reason, the media finally started calling a squirrel a squirrel:

Here’s Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly:

I honestly can’t remember the last time we saw a Senate Republican leader and a House Republican leader this far apart on a high-profile policy dispute. Everything about McConnell’s new statement appears intended to smack Boehner down, just as the Speaker tries to find his footing.

It’s remarkable, and further isolates the radicalized House GOP caucus.

Dana Milbank:

Atop the House chamber Wednesday morning, the flag fluttered in the breeze. In his office underneath the Capitol dome, House Speaker John Boehner twisted in the wind.His House Republicans had killed a bipartisan plan to cut taxes for 160 million Americans, earning themselves an avalanche of criticism and condemnation from friend and foe alike.

Greg Sargent:

…Senate GOP aides are sending a message to the House side that if they don’t pass the Senate short-term extension, they won’t be able to count on any help in getting themselves out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves.

Ana Marie Cox:

A friend covering the Hill impasse over the payroll tax cuts insists that Speaker John Boehner’s job has become a task of “herding squirrels.” Not cats, the more typical go-to cliché for trying to organize the unorganizable, but squirrels: “Squirrels are panicky and prone to irrational running into traffic.”This is an apt enough metaphor, as no matter what the eventual policy outcome – an extension of the tax cut or no – Congressional Republicans are roadkill. The question is just whether or not Democrats will chase out into the street after them.


Republican reins slipping from Boehner


House Republicans faced mounting pressure Wednesday from critics inside and outside Congress who worry that their standoff with President Obama over whether to extend a payroll tax cut could do lasting damage to the GOP.

The Hill:

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said he agreed with the Wall Street Journal’s blistering assessment on the failure of House Republican leadership in the payroll-tax debate, and conceded that Republicans have “lost the optics” and should fold on the issue.

Update: The fallout continues for Boehner, who first agreed to the deal, then backed off under pressure from his hard-liners, and who has now caved to pressure from the rest of the reality-based universe. The hard-liners are not happy:

Chad Pergram@ChadPergram One GOP member on the GOP conference call on the deal by Boehner: “He may have a hard time keeping his Speakership after this.”

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Earlier coverage:

(Cartoon of GOP House leaders by DonkeyHotey)

About the Author

Jeremy Bloom is the Editor of RedGreenAndBlue. He lives in New York, where he combines his passion for the environment with his passion for film, and is working on making the world a better place.

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