Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A House Divided...

Well, here we are again, folks. The Republican House has, while not openly voting no on the Senate payroll tax cut compromise bill, effectively done so. Let's have some background on this, shall we?

The Republicans and some Democrats wanted the payroll tax cuts for middle class Americans to be paid for or offset somehow for the next year. They're set to expire on the first of January. The House wanted to include a provision that would allow the Keystone XL pipeline to begin construction, the Senate wanted to pay for it using a small millionaire's surtax. The House refused to pass a clean, one year extension of the tax cut, unemployment benefits, and Medicare "doc fix". So the Senate leaders of both parties got together and crafted a compromise bill that extended the tax cuts for two months and included the Keystone pipeline provision that the Republicans wanted. Congressional leaders would then work together on extending the cuts through the rest of the year.

Now, John Boehner goes and says that the House will not be voting on the compromise bill (despite the fact that the Senate passed it 89 to 10). Instead, he says, the House will defer the bill to a committee where the House and Senate will craft a new compromise bill. Why would they do this, you might ask? Well, they offered three reasons:

The compromise bill is too short at two months and leaves Americans uncertain of the future, the bill wasn't really a compromise, and finally, because it was politically bad for Republicans, as the two month deal would allow President Obama to "again browbeat Republicans into extending the tax cut during his State of the Union address in January." 

Okay, now wait a minute. These things don't make a whole lot of sense to me. First off, the only reason the compromise bill is only two months is because the Republicans refused to pass a one-year extension. Moreover, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly supported to bill that they helped to craft. So why the sudden opposition? As far as the bill not really being a compromise...that's just not really true at all. The Democrats got what they wanted: the bill is paid for by a millionaire's surtax, and the Republicans got what they wanted: they go-ahead on the Keystone pipeline. If that isn't a compromise, then please, enlighten me as to what is one. Finally, the whole politically unfavorable thing just sounds pretty awful to me. Playing politics on either side is bad, but really, they're putting their political maneuverings ahead of a tax cut that could help the still-ailing economy? Because they don't want Obama to brow-beat them into passing an extension in front of the whole country? Here's an idea then: pass a one-year extension!

So anyways, their whole argument is disingenuous as you've seen here. They're claiming that the compromise merely kicks the can down the road, but they were the ones who first insisted on kicking it!