The phrase “couldn’t find their butts with both hands tied behind their backs” comes to mind as I analyze the feat of stupidity undertaken by the leaders of the House and Senate in the Social Security revenue cut proposal (a.k.a. payroll tax holiday).
A news outlet I do not often quote, The New York Times, has an opinion piece that puts it succinctly:
After a long stretch of high unemployment, legislative turmoil and, in turn, slipping public approval, President Obama seemed to regain his political footing this week with the help of House Republicans, whose handling of a standoff over payroll taxes had even leading conservatives accusing them of bungling the politically charged issue.
Obama has done absolutely nothing right, yet the GOP leadership is handing him a populist issue upon which he can turn his entire campaign around.
There is no way the GOP and Conservatives can come out of a tax battle smelling like a rose when the Democrats are voting for an increase that the right is willing to vote against. Harry Reid, Barack Obama and their puppet masters have played a masterful gambit and Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Speaker Boehner bit – hard.
Despite the fact that the Senate passed a bill they knew would not pass the House and got on the first train out of the swamp, the Republicans stayed behind “doing their work” and will have nothing but egg on their faces for it.
The Senate bill offers a two month, 2% tax holiday on payroll social security taxes. The House bill offers the same holiday but over a year’s time. The Democrats have to swallow a provision that puts the Keystone XL pipeline on the front burner.
Boehner tried to point out that the House had conferees ready to work out a compromise in joint committee over the differences in the two bills. He just asked that the Senate send their own conferees to join in the discussions so that they could work out a compromise that could be passed by both houses.
Obama came out in a press conference this week and demanded that the full House come back from vacation and vote on the Senate’s plan – echoing Reid’s commentary (or vice-versa – it’s so hard to tell now adays).
Both plans include a push to get a decision made on the Keystone XL pipeline, an extension of unemployment benefits, the Medicare doc-fix and a payroll tax holiday – so what’s the problem?
The fight isn’t over whether or not a tax cut should happen, the fight has been over how to pay for it and what to include with it.
The Senate’s 2-month version includes full unemployment benefit extensions at current levels. The House plan cuts the length of jobless benefits from 99 weeks to 79 weeks and requires beneficiaries without a high school diploma to seek education in order to continue receiving benefits.
A better play for the Republicans would have been to agree to the two month extension no strings attached. Then in February when we’re still talking about it, mention that the GOP gave something in December, the DNC gave nothing – just as they have for the last 3 years. The democrats are all take and no give – no compromise.
Boehner and McConnell are getting played and played well. If they continue with their ill-thought strategies, it will not be long before neither are leaders of much of anything.