The PJ Tatler

Here We Go Again: House GOP Opposes Payroll Tax Deal

Another deadline looming, another exercise in brinkmanship by one side or the other.

The Social Security payroll tax holiday is set to expire December 31, as will extended unemployment benefits.  Senate leaders hammered out a compromise deal that would extend both programs for two months — enough time for the congress to figure out how pay for them.

But Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are balking at signing off on the deal. “It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences, and extend this for one year,” said Boehner on Meet the Press. This, after urging the House GOP to support the senate bill yesterday.

New York Times:

But any thought that Congress will agree on a yearlong tax-cut extension or on the other provisions is extremely optimistic, given that its work will overlap with Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech, the heat of the Republican primaries and a presidential campaign hitting full stride. Senate Democrats criticized Mr. Boehner’s stance on the payroll tax cut, saying he was renouncing the fact that the package had been negotiated last week by House and Senate leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said that Mr. Boehner had asked him and the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, to work out a compromise on the tax cut and that it had been agreed to by both political parties.

“Neither side got everything they wanted, but we forged a middle ground that passed the Senate by an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” Mr. Reid said in a statement. “If Speaker Boehner refuses to vote on the bipartisan compromise that passed the Senate with 89 votes, Republicans will be forcing a thousand-dollar tax increase on middle class families on January 1st.”

Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Mr. Boehner’s comments called into question his ability to lead.

“This is a test of whether the House Republicans are fit to govern, and it is a make-or-break moment for John Boehner’s speakership,” he said in a statement. “You cannot let a small group at the extreme resort to brinksmanship every time there is a major national issue and try to dictate every move this nation makes.”

Boehner appears unable to stand up to his own caucus, much less the Democrats. And congress seems institutionally incapable of functioning unless it’s on the brink of failure. It’s getting tiresome to watch as both sides allow time to nearly expire before coming up with the expected deal.

It’s hard to know who precisely they think they are impressing with this display.