Republicans in the House today rejected a Senate-approved payroll tax deal. As Politico reports:
With a tax hike looming for 160 million Americans on New Year’s Day, House Republicans rejected a Senate plan to extend the payroll tax holiday for two months and instead called for a conference committee to hammer out the differences between the House and Senate.
The 229-193 partisan vote capped a wild few days of legislating and sends a message that Congress has chosen partisan stalemate over finding a quick solution before taxes go up and unemployment benefits go away for millions.
House Republicans, who were taken aback by the overwhelmingly bipartisan 89-10 Senate vote on the two-month extension, are trying to force the Senate to convene an old fashioned conference committee and somehow forge agreement on a full one-year extension of the payroll tax cut. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he will not negotiate until the House passes a two-month extension.
Democrats quickly cried foul over the House rejection of the proposal. Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter issued the following statement:
“Once again, Tea Party Republicans are playing games with Americans because they want to block the President’s agenda. Because of their irresponsible actions, 160 million Americans face a tea party tax increase in the New Year, and 48 million senior citizens may lose access to their doctors. This is no way to run a business, a family and certainly not our nation. Every day Republicans engage in these kinds of games is a lost opportunity to create jobs.”
Yesterday our friends at “The Fix” questioned the political logic of House Speaker John Boehner on an issue that is very popular with middle class voters — and we don’t disagree:
What House Republicans are doing amounts to a political high wire act without a net. In a recent Associated Press-GfK national poll, nearly six in ten Americans said they wanted the payroll tax cut extended including 54 percent of self-described conservative Republicans.
“As sloppy as things look so far, House Republicans believe their arguments about job creation will win out over Democratic talking points on process and Reid’s refusal to even negotiate,” said Eric Ueland, former chief of staff to then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.).
Owning that failure, however, could be a devastating blow for a party who is still adjusting to its new majority in the House – and hoping to take control of the Senate and the White House next November.
Already, the public seems inclined to blame Republicans for the lack of major accomplishments by this Congress. In a recent Pew poll, 50 percent of people said this Congress has accomplished less than previous ones; of that group 40 percent said Republican leaders were more to blame while 23 percent blamed Democratic leaders more.
It seems to us that House Republicans are badly overplaying any hand that they think they have here. They can argue about the logic of a two-month reprieve over a longer-term proposal, but those are details that will be lost to the average voter. The message that will be received is that House Republicans blocked a Senate plan to cut taxes for the middle class. Slice that up any way you like — there’s no version where it comes out looking good for the GOP.