McConnell Attempts To Stanch GOP Payroll Tax Bleed-Out

UPDATE #3: The Colorado Independent’s David O. Williams:

Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall this afternoon said he hopes a pending deal between House Republicans and Senate leaders to end a payroll tax-cut stalemate signals a new willingness for both parties to work together after the holidays.

“I’m grateful that cooler heads have prevailed and that my House colleagues have ended their political brinksmanship over the extension of the payroll tax cut,” said Udall, a Democrat. “This will come as a big relief for Colorado families who were facing a tax hike starting in just a few days.”

Following the lead of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Republican House leaders caved in to growing pressure and reportedly agreed to a two-month extension of lower payroll tax rates as well as unemployment benefits and Medicare reimbursements.

“Americans have suffered enough from the president’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike,” McConnell said a prepared statement this afternoon…


UPDATE #2: New headline at Politico: “GOP ready to cave.” Developing.


UPDATE: Via The New Republic’s Timothy Noah, here’s anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist.

At new heights of incoherence trying to reconcile the House GOP’s position with “The Pledge.”

Listening to the ordinarily silver-tongued Grover Norquist, president of Americans For Tax Reform and high priest of the anti-tax movement, try to spit out some justification for the House GOP’s Masada-like stance against extending the payroll tax cut is like listening to Porky Pig sing “Blue Christmas.” He’ll gloat that the Democrats had to back off their millionaire surtax to pay for the payroll tax cut extension. He’ll chide Obama for trying to postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. But he won’t say that the House Republicans, in rejecting the Senate compromise, have voted to raise payroll taxes. [Pols emphasis] “It would be a higher tax than it was last year for one year,” he allowed in a Dec. 20 radio interview, sounding remarkably like Bill Clinton quibbling about the definition of “is.” But “it’s not a violation of The Pledge not to extend a one-year tax holiday.”

Grudgingly, Norquist opined, “I think it’s a good idea to extend it largely because the Democrats will demagogue it if one doesn’t, so let’s do it and let’s move on.”

Understand what Grover Norquist is saying. The nation’s alleged foremost enemy of higher taxes is worried that the Democrats might “demagogue” higher taxes…on 160 million Americans. And this is why he “grudgingly” says the House should approve the compromise that prevents higher taxes on 160 million middle and working-class Americans. But it’s okay, if taxes do go up on 160 million Americans next year, that somehow doesn’t violate “The Pledge” not to raise taxes!

We’re not sure that the public is ready to understand the full implications of what he is saying, and what it reveals about who Grover Norquist and his Pledge signers are actually fighting for.


CNN updates:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, urged House Republicans to support a short-term extension of the expiring payroll tax cut — similar to a two-month bipartisan measure passed overwhelmingly by the Senate and now demanded by both President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.

In return, McConnell pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to appoint conferees to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between competing plans — something requested by House Republicans…

But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pushed back, having his office release a statement reiterating his call for negotiators to craft an immediate one-year tax cut extension — something considered unlikely by most congressional observers.

…The latest maneuvering occurred against the backdrop of mounting pressure across the political spectrum for House Republicans to drop their opposition to the Senate’s bipartisan agreement on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut — an issue many in the GOP fear is damaging the party’s anti-tax reputation heading into the 2012 campaign. [Pols emphasis]

As CBS News reports, even Karl Rove is now begging House Republicans to give it up:

Republicans “have lost the optics on it,” Rove told Fox News, “the question now is how do the Republicans get out of it.”

Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans on Tuesday blocked a Senate proposal to extend the popular tax cut for two months in an effort to allow lawmaker from both parties more time to hash out a larger compromise on a host of issues that were holding up the payroll tax extension…

The mastermind of Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election effort said the only thing Republicans can do now is “use it for political theater and then vote the two month extension and get out of town.”

It’s been lost in the debate over the last few days over the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, but the principal sticking point in the full one-year extension that all parties claim to want is how to pay for it. A Democratic proposal for a “millionaire surtax” to cover the costs was jettisoned about a week ago in the Senate to help produce the two-month compromise. This proposal forced the unwanted choice on the GOP of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, or everybody else, so it’s understandable that they had severe problems responding to it. Today, House Republicans are arguing a case that they can’t fully articulate because the optics are a nightmare for them–and their front is collapsing on their strongest issue as a result.

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    First of all, you’re obviously very happy with yourselves. Congratulations!

    What I’ll say is this: the surtax was DOA and Mitch McConnell will be the first to agree. It would never have passed the House or the Senate, and it would definitely have violated the ATR Pledge. So you need to get off your high horse about that right now.

    Second, the payroll tax cut is of questionable economic value. It amounts to a mere $40 month for most Americans, which while nice is not going to turn the economy around. This particular tax cut also defunds Social Security at a faster rate, something Democrats claim they oppose. Why then are you all so hot to give it away?

    You know what I think? I think this debate shows that Democrats are the ones lacking in principle, not Republicans. Democrats are willing to damage Social Security for a tax cut for the sole purpose of making Republicans look bad. OTOH, there’s not a conservative in the land who is really going to believe that Democrats are now the party of lower taxes and start voting for you.

    I agree that Democrats played a good game of gotcha, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals. If Democrats are winning this one it’s because they are trying to pretend they are conservatives. It can’t work in the long run. Americans know better!

    • AristotleAristotle says:

      You’re as dishonest a polster as this blog has ever seen. What do you know about principles?

      “A tax increase is a tax increase is a tax increase.” The GOP has sung that song so long, that ANY deviation is a violation of this “pledge.” And the fact that it’s going against the middle class only reinforces the fact that the GOP are lackeys for the 1%.

    • Wong21fr says:

      The expiration of this tax cut would amount to $40 per pay period.  A pay period is generally considered every two weeks in the private sector.  But I guess you’ve never worked in the private sector, have you, you social parasite?

      So, it’s roughly $80 per month for 160 million workers.  Which is approximately $154 billion dollars per year that has just been removed from the GDP of United States in terms of consumption with no offset in investments of government spending.  

      Congratulations!  You’ve just shaved roughly 1.1 % off of US GDP for the next year.  Which means that you’ve cut economic growth in the US in HALF in 2012.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      “Second, the payroll tax cut is of questionable economic value. It amounts to a mere $40 month for most Americans, which while nice is not going to turn the economy around. This particular tax cut also defunds Social Security at a faster rate, something Democrats claim they oppose. Why then are you all so hot to give it away? ”

      First off, you can point your web browser over to the White House website and read some of the tweets about what $40 a week means to working folks. (If you have that Focus on the Family Websafe software on your browser, you may have to disable it.)

      Second, here’s one of those economy-thingie articles that talks about the impact of the Teabagger Tax hike:

      The politics of this debate might be typical, but the results of inaction would have a direct impact on consumers. The payroll tax extension affects 160 million Americans. If not extended, it would cost a person or family making $50,000 a year about $1,000 in tax breaks in 2012. A person or family making $75,000 a year would pay an extra $1,500.

      Third, you’re a stammering dumbass regarding Social Security:

      Payroll Tax Cut Doesn’t Impact Social Security

      Sarah Jennings, state director of AARP-South Dakota, says the original tax cut, even though it involves money designated for the Social Security Trust Fund, was designed to have little impact on Social Security.

      “If the payroll tax holiday continues, we want to make sure that the funding to the Social Security Trust Fund is being repaid by some other revenue. And that’s been happening, so there has been no weakening of Social Security. That has been a priority for us, and that’s what we are really going to watch going forward, as well.”


      Miss me and my virtual foot up your ass?

    • you all will have no problems with the messaging to the electorate on this . . . piece of cake.  You all won this battle, too.  I’ll be looking for your congressional candidates to be flogging the Dems during the campaigns next year.   It’s sure gonna hurt . . . ouch, ouch, ouch . . . why don’t you all show us Dems a little mercy — in the spirit of the season?  We cry, “uncle.”

      (You’re the funny that just never quits.)

    • It’s been pointed out that you’re wrong on both the amount that an average family gets from the payroll tax cut, and on the mistaken assumption that the cut depletes the SSI fund.

      Are you willing to admit this, and tell us whether you just put this out as a knowingly false talking point or because you were truly misled by your Republican Party friends?

  2. SSG_Dan says:

    House agrees payroll tax deal as Republicans cave in to Obama

    John Boehner set to sign two-month extension on payroll tax cuts after pressure from president and Senate minority leader

    Congressional Republicans have capitulated in the showdown over the payroll tax, handing Barack Obama an important victory going into election year.

    John Boehner, the House Speaker, announced a full-scale retreat on Thursday evening after days of criticism from fellow Republicans, including Karl Rove and senator John McCain, who said his actions were hurting the party.

    The decisive moment came when the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, withdrew his support for Boehner and sided with the White House, calling on Republicans in the House to support a bill to extend tax breaks.

    As a result of McConnell’s intervention, support for Boehner crumbled. As a face-saving exercise, Boehner claimed to have secured a concession – but it is no more than a minor procedural point.

    • sxp151 says:

      Remember, the Senate only agreed to this package because Boehner indicated it was acceptable. It was whackjob teabaggers who rejected it. And apparently Boehner has set this up so it requires unanimous consent, which means any teabagger can fuck it up. Wanna bet whether one will?

      • PERA hopeful says:

        Ten thousand thousand dollars that some nitwit teabagger objects.  Next bet: Who will that teabagger be?  Michele Bachmann?  Eric Cantor?  

      • Have a teabagger show up for the unanimous consent call and object…

        There is now semi-officially (but anonymously) blood in the water for Boehner’s resignation as Speaker – the subject came up during a GOP conference call to discuss the way forward on this “compromise” (aka cave-in on Boehner’s part).

        • sxp151 says:

          like Eric Cantor, but I guess that’s mainly because I wasn’t paying attention when Newt Gingrich was ousted.

        • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

          If none show up, then Boehner has started to rein in the tea baggers. If one does show up then it’s going to be open warfare in the Republican party.

          • it might actually be better for Boehner, who would have to recall his fellow Representatives to take a formal vote.  House members might actually vote for Boehner if they’re in a grumpy mood due to the tea party takeover brigade forcing them to come back to DC.

            The bill will pass the House if it comes to a vote; allowing it via unanimous consent gives the teabaggers cover to say they never voted for it.

      • dwyer says:

        Boehner has just done to McConnell and the Senate Republicans what he did to Obama last summer on the debt crisis resolution.  A Charlie Brown moment?

        Now, is Boehner smart enough to double-cross anyone? Is he sober enough to do that? Or, is he a puppet?

        My quess:  Repubs will not approve the extension until they have conned Obama into getting on Air Force One to go to Hawaii under the mistaken idea that the problem has been solved….the repubs need that photo shot for the 2012 campaign.

  3. BlueCat says:

    “GOP caves to Obama” after years of hearing Obama and Harry Reid explain to us, time after time, why they had to cave to the big tough GOP bullies in order to save the hostages(us)…. priceless. And about time.  

      • Democrats won the messaging battle here in a way they never did on the debt ceiling crisis or any other battle in the past few years.  And they won it so decisively that they had Mitch McConnell and even Karl Rove on their side.

        I would not at all read this as “we could have been doing this all along…”, because it took this long to beat the Republicans upside the head with their intransigence.  And even now, don’t expect that we’ll be able to put the millionaire’s surtax back in as a funding source.  This worked because we met the Republicans on every term except the actual core of the bill, and it was preventing a tax increase; if it hadn’t been a blatant demonstration of hypocrisy, IMHO we’d still be caving.

        But this provides an opening the Democrats have not had in ages.  The news cycle has been very unkind to the GOP here; if Dems are smart, they can use this to their advantage in the upcoming session.

        • BlueCat says:

          too bad they didn’t figure that out, including how to win the messaging wars, 3 years ago. Or two decades ago for that matter.  

          • harrydobyharrydoby says:

            The GOP propaganda factory is so adept at finding words, such as “Job Creators”, “Job-Killing-(anything proposed by Dems)” to cover their real agenda (dismantle any safety-net program passed since 1933, impose their “Do as I say, not as I do” values on everyone else), we need to tag each of their latest talking points to the actual hidden agenda objective.

            I made a little stab at it earlier.  Perhaps others can pick up where it leaves off and improve on it.

          • But again – what did we win, other than the messaging war?  Not much.  There’s no millionaire surtax to pay for it, they threw in the Keystone pipeline deadline, and it’s only a 2-month extension (which, if Republicans had been smart, would have been an attack line, since Obama was telling the House “no short-term deals”…).

            Sure, we got the actual rate cut (or at least an extension of the current rate), plus a short-term extension of unemployment benefits and the Medicare doc fix.  But those are all still potentially on the chopping block when the conference committee meets in the new year.

            So essentially we won a messaging war largely on Republican terms.  At this rate we’ll be congratulating ourselves on winning the messaging war for Ron Wyden’s Medicare voucher tag-team with Paul Ryan.  No thanks.

            • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

              People now know they have a tax cut republicans want to eliminate. And voters are paying attention. Work it right over the next 2 months where the vote is on tax cut continues paid for by the millionaire surcharge and the Repubs are then in a no win

              • If you look at just this victory, all we won was a messaging battle – the bill itself was loaded with concessions to Republicans, and we won the messaging because despite that Republicans still blocked it.

                I agree that we may be able to turn this into something good, but looking back and saying “if only we’d done this 3 years ago, we’d be in the driver’s seat now” ignores how much inundation and repetition it’s taken to get voters and the press to wake up and put the blame squarely on the GOP, and how little we won in the actual bill.  That 3 years ago past you keep talking about is a fantasy, and while we could have done a lot better in bringing ourselves to this point, we would not have been able to go so far as to get Mitch McConnell on our side back in 2009.

                • BlueCat says:

                  We have never seen or heard that before.  Up until now the clear message to the GOP was that if you don’t flinch, Obama and Harry will, so there is nothing to fear. No need to deal or piss off your crazy base. Ever.  You will always win.   Dems will always fold to save the hostages.

                  This changes that or at least can change it. They now know it is possible to lose a game of chicken after all.  That, in itself, is huge. That is it can be if Obama and Harry stick with it and don’t just revert to caving for the sake of fantasy bi-partisanship.

                  Also this made a big dent in the GOP’s string of up is down, 1984 speak successes.  The public didn’t buy their explanation for why all tax cuts are good except those for workers.

                  That last stab some TPers took at pretending to care about its effect on social security didn’t even register as everyone knows the GOTP wants to kill social security anyway.  

                  And you have TP Pols being stupid enough to say right out loud that it should be defeated not because defeating it would be good for the American people but simply because anything Obama is for, good or bad, should be defeated just because Obama is for it.

                  I share your over all disappointment with the concrete but the not so concrete matters too, sometimes more. Dems can use this to remind people that when they hear that half don’t pay taxes, that just means federal income taxes.  People who don’t make enough to pay those pay this one and it’s a very big chunk for all middle and lower income workers

  4. Pam Bennett says:

    Tune into CSPAN, usually CSPAN 2, around 10am EST to see if a tea/republican shows up to demand a count. They have done that before on a consent.

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