Political Animal


December 22, 2011 2:15 PM Obama throws support to McConnell/Reid plan

By Steve Benen

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) offered House Republican leaders a way out of their payroll-tax-cut mess: after the House approves the Senate-approved bipartisan compromise, senators can start the next round of negotiations over a year-long extension. This morning, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his support for Reid’s approach.

And about an hour ago, President Obama threw his support behind the same plan.

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So, for those keeping score at home, the White House, the Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, and 89% of the Senate all want the same thing, and if the House brought the bill to the floor for a vote, it’d probably pass.

Which is why the House GOP leadership won’t let that happen.

The above clip is worth watching, but of particular interest was this line in the president’s remarks: “What’s happening right now is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington. This is it. This is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington. This isn’t a typical Democrat vs. Republican issue; this is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree. How can we not get that done? Has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can’t do it?”

The answer, I’m afraid, is “probably yes.” That’s what happens when a radicalized Republican Party controls part of the government.

For his part, Boehner’s office is saying the temporary extension approved by the Senate would be “unworkable for many small business job creators.” I have no idea if the Speaker actually believes that, but just in case, it’s worth noting that (a) Boehner didn’t say that House Republicans proposed a two-month payroll tax cut in 2009; and (b) if Boehner’s caucus kills the Senate’s bipartisan compromise, “small business job creators” will get hit with a tax increase.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on December 22, 2011 2:20 PM:

    Obama just came out and supported something.

    Now every Republican Senator will have to come back and change their vote to oppose him.

    Seriously - it's in their rule book.
    Hell - that IS their rule book!!!

    I fooled you!
    Despite your best efforts, I still figured it out!

  • just bill on December 22, 2011 2:28 PM:

    daily kos is reporting that boner is claiming that "payroll tax experts all say that three months would be unworkable and costly". what the fuck is that supposed to mean? that's just more bullshit to spin the problem he finds himself in. two months, three months, a year. there would be absolutely no difference as far as payroll taxes are concerned. god, i'm sick of this shit.

    how can you read a f**king captcha that's got a big black blob in the middle of the word? I'm on my sixth one, and i hope it works.

  • SYSPROG on December 22, 2011 2:30 PM:

    I know this'll SHOCK you, but he's a LIAR. One more time, these stupid congresscritters don't know what they are talking about. If you get it in in the last five days before the end of the pay period it will take affect that paycheck. Otherwise, it will be redeposited the NEXT paycheck. The ONLY hassle is to do it twice...if they agree to extend and then f* around for two months. I guess to KNOW this you would have to actually work for a living instead of just cashing giant corporate checks.

  • square1 on December 22, 2011 2:39 PM:

    Whatís happening right now is exactly why people just get so frustrated with Washington.


    This isnít a typical Democrat vs. Republican issue


    How can we not get that done?

    FYI, the reason that we have been overrun with GOP narratives is that Republicans actually provide narratives and Democrats ask questions.

    And even the fucking question ("How can we...?") implies a level of culpability between everyone involved).

    Bill Clinton's infuriating triangulation in the 90s was arguably good for Clinton, even if it was disastrous for the party and the country. Similarly, Obama's "adult in the room" schtick may be good for him, but it doesn't help the rest of us.

    Don't dick around, channel Anthony Weiner: "For those asking why this hasn't passed yet, there is a simple answer. The Speaker of the House won't let it come up for a vote. Why not? Because it would pass.

    The time for debate is over. It is time for a vote. If you believe that it is a bad idea to extend the payroll tax cut then vote no. If you believe that it is a bad idea to extend unemployment benefits then vote no."

  • T2 on December 22, 2011 2:41 PM:

    "when a radicalized Republican Party controls part of the government."
    Boner is hardly a radicalized GOP guy....he's as Establishment GOP as they come. But he has to run for office every once in a while, so he's scared to death he'll be primaried by the actual radicalized GOP and lose his cush job. In other words, he's spineless.
    Additionally, the radicalized part of the GOP actually don't control anything...they just act like they do, and like any successful bully, that's the main thing. And that's why Boner won't just let the non-radical House GOPers and the House Dems vote on this....the House GOP and, really the Senate GOP are scared to death of losing their jobs in the next primary to a radical bully. In a nutshell, these guys are spineless cowards. The just reward will be for all of them to lose their jobs.

  • AndThenThere'sThat on December 22, 2011 2:54 PM:

    Obama is making his strong position weaker by breaking a $1,000 median tax hike into $40 increments and blabbing about people who can't eat pizza because of it.

    And for god's sake enough with the "this is why people dislike congress" bullshit. Just come out and say it already. Let the words form in your mouth, Prez. "Democrats and traditional Republicans want to extend payroll tax cuts for the middle class. Tea Party Republicans voted into the House in 2010 are refusing to extend them.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 22, 2011 3:26 PM:

    I like the $40 per pay period thought-process. I think it makes the issue salient for people living from paycheck to paycheck. In my lowly desk-jockey job, that would be a downgrade from Top Ramen to just plain old saltine crackers... a week's worth of gas... a couple of weeks worth of metro trips (coupled, in my case, with the public transit pre-tax benefit reduced from $230 to $125)... The downturn has turned a whole lot of people into penny pinchers and quarter clutchers. Hell, I fished a bright, shiny quarter out of the toilet a couple of weeks ago because I couldn't bring myself to flush an ENTIRE quarter down the drain (pennies or nickels might not have gotten the time of day, though).

  • Josef K on December 22, 2011 3:50 PM:

    Oh, hell. Just let the damned thing expire and start calling it The Tea Party Tax. They're the one's who're supposedly so hot and bothered for "no taxation" and all.

  • QuestionEverything on December 22, 2011 3:59 PM:

    This is a strange place to be in.

    Republican narratives aren't being parroted constantly by the MSM (I don't consider Fox as a legitimate news source) and Obama is hammering something that is having a real impact...an impact that is not easily diluted by the lazy, false equivalence of the MSM or the GOP ranting attack machine.

    The Right Wing can't spin this around as partisan or any other nonsense that 'stupid' people want to believe (even before their told). It appears to me like it has true traction in this country.

    AND!! Boehner and Co. are too arrogant to give in and are using the same nonsense to battle, ineffectively, with Obama. The MSM can't even make this into a false equivalence with most of the stupid party (GOP).

    Obama is taking full advantage of this and the House GOP are letting him. They can't be so arrogant to think that they have such a strong hold on the indoctrinated, stupid people, at least for this issue, that all they have to do is lie or spew nonsense and large numbers of their sheeple will fall in line.

    Normally, whatever the GOP says, even if it's a complete lie, the MSM tends to either parrot it or treat it with equal weight (he said/she said).

    They aren't doing it with this issue and the current GOP knee-jerk reaction is to double-down and try to lie their way out of this and expect most Americans and the complacent MSM to protect them and coddle their silly party.

    It's just very strange to me because I'm always so skeptical about Americans in general (even though I am one) for a number of reasons. You could have a smart, credible, capable, strong leader in Obama and a weak, lying, arrogant, ineffective (proven), radical Republican party and somehow, they are on par with each other. It's crazy to watch this day in and day out. This week is the one exception to that silly rule.

    I don't get it (but I'm glad people are starting to figure it out--we'll see with the next GOP-induced crisis/nonsense that happens).

  • Kathryn on December 22, 2011 4:37 PM:

    Like your wording square 1, a lot, guess the political guys running this re-election effort think the reasonable nice guy works better, hope they're right. Man oh man, do I miss Anthony Weiner. President could never do a full Weiner, but a shorter more direct message is what I crave.

  • Ron Byers on December 22, 2011 4:49 PM:

    Just to address the "unworkable and costly" complaint for a moment. Businesses of all sizes use software to calculate their paychecks. Businesses would be required to change their software early in 2012 if the extension is not extended beyond two months. That is the expense Boner is talking about. Of course, there is no software cost if the extension is extended 12 months, and there will be a software change if January 1 comes and the extension hasn't been passed.

  • chi res on December 22, 2011 9:33 PM:

    Um, if the POTUS ever did a "full Weiner" he wouldn't be in the WH very long... kinda like you don't see (as) much of Weiner anymore.

  • Doug on December 22, 2011 10:21 PM:

    LOL, chi res!
    Besides being a VERY accurate summation of the possibility of a Weiner-type politician occupying the Oval Office...