Saturday, December 24, 2011

GOP Overreach in Congress

With the recent fiasco in the Congress about extending the Payroll Tax Cut, the American People are finally seeing how absurd the House GOP's behavior is when it comes anything having to do with Obama. When even the GOP threatens a tax hike just to spite the President, it is crystal clear that the GOP is not interested in anything other than destroying Obama, even if it means taking down the middle class with it.

When I hear the House GOP try to spin their opposition to the two month extension of the Payroll Tax Holiday, I am amazed at how lame their reasoning is and I marvel at how tone-deaf they sound.

Let's review the facts:

1. The House GOP said they wanted a year-long extension and that the 2-month extension is unacceptable. Well, from the very get-go, that's exactly what Obama wanted. But Obama couldn't get anyone in the GOP to agree on this extension because of disputes over how to pay for it. The ONLY possible solution was a temporary one that was fashioned by the Senate.

2. Speaking of the Senate's bill, it had clear and strong bi-partisan support, so the House opposition to that bill just made the GOP look out of sync and foolish.

3. The fact that the House GOP then had to devise a strategy to oppose the Senate bill without actually, you know, having the damn balls or convictions to actually vote against the bill, really made the House GOP look like it was sacrificing conviction for political expediency and made their efforts thus reek of political opportunism at the expense of political courage.

4. Then there's the provision in the temporary bill that requires the President to make an election year decision about the Keystone pipeline that could have been a wedge issue for the GOP against the President between two of the President's core constituencies: the Unions and the Environmentalists. The House GOP shenanigans completely undercut whatever advantage the Senate bill gave to the GOP in this regard. Now, even though I believe Obama is committed to making an early decision regarding Keystone, the headlines regarding passage of the Senate bill are not about this "victory" for the GOP, but about the caving of the House GOP and the triumph of Obama over them. The House GOP snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, all because of a petulant and visceral hatred of Obama.

5. And no matter what happens, every single Democrat can now add to their campaign arsenal an attack on the GOP as middle class tax advocates. As even Charles Krauthammer has noted:

The GOP’s performance nicely reprises that scene in “Animal House” where the marching band turns into a blind alley and row after row of plumed morons plows into a brick wall, crumbling to the ground in an unceremonious heap. 
With one difference: House Republicans are unplumed.
6. Folks on the left and the right often talk about "Derangement Syndrome" when it comes to opposing a political rival irrationally. Often times, this is nothimg more than a bit of hyperbole to make the other side look bad; but, in this instance, the House GOP really did look deranged in their opposition to this bill and really do looks as if their agenda is driven purely by hatred for Obama, even at the expense of their supposed antipathy to raising taxes under any circumstances.

And the rich irony of all this is that the Payroll Tax really does hit the working class harder that it does the wealthy because of the ceiling that is placed on income subject to the tax. Middle-class families would have their full income subject to this tax, whereas the wealthy would have only a portion of their full income subject to this tax. Taking a pound of flesh from someone weighing in at 120 lbs is going to be a much more damaging and serious excision than taking a pound of flesh from someone weighing in at a "healthy" 450 lbs, who won't even notice the loss much less suffer from it.

4 comments:

Eric said...

The House GOP was largely reacting to a flood of criticism from business owners (perhaps their largest support base) who don't want to have to recalibrate payroll tax withholdings and deal with the ensuing Human Resource nightmare in the middle of a fiscal quarter. It is much easier to implement such things, both systemically and psychologically, at the end/beginning of the year. Remember, business owners already spend a significant portion of their time and money handling the government's tax collections for them, and are completely uncompensated for this task.

That's a legitimate issue, and one that nobody thought to bring up until the two-month extension was already on the table with no time left, further illustrating how far removed from the day-to-day reality of life in the trenches our political class is.

So I applaud the House Republicans for taking it down to the wire in search of a better deal, but you are right that Obama will be able to lay claim to 'tax cutter' status in 2012. Of course, the Republicans will have a share of that claim as well, but it will help Obama more than the GOP.

I find it interesting though, that as Obama embraces not only Bush's foreign policy, but now also his economic policy of targeted tax cuts for the middle class, that liberals still heap most of their anger on Republicans. It's almost like they are willing to ignore reality in order to embrace a petulant and visceral hatred of all things Republican. ;-)

Huck said...

Eric - The reality, which Obama has acknowledged, is that this environment favors conservatives and conservative policies. And even though many liberals are disappointed in Obama for doing this, what riles liberals like me is that conservatives can't even acknowledge this about Obama. They really do have such a visceral hatred for the man that even when Obama embraces conservative orthodoxy on taxes, Republicans still oppose him. It reveals conservative Republicans in the House to be the reactionary nihilists that they are.

And let's not forget, Eric, that Obama wanted a year-long extension of the payroll tax holiday; but House Conservatives were the ones stonewalling this by their refusal to compromise. The two month agreement was the only palatable compromise possible.

Eric said...

"... even when Obama embraces conservative orthodoxy on taxes, Republicans still oppose him."

Both sides agreed it should be extended for another year. The opposition was over how to pay for it (and let's be clear: The Senate's plan to pay for the extension with a fee on mortgage closings is going to hurt the already struggling housing market).

As for the Republican rank-and-file, yes they get pretty fed up with Obama constantly complaining about conservative ideas that "have been tried and failed" in one breath as he turns around and implements those same ideas with the next breath.

"The two month agreement was the only palatable compromise possible."

Hardly so. Obama and the Senate could have come back from vacation and done their job. I know plenty of oilfield workers who didn't get to spend Christmas with their families because their job responsibilities, at the last minute, required them to be elsewhere doing nasty things they didn't want to be doing... things that could have been prevented. The fact that President Obama and the Senate found it 'unpalatable' to stay in D.C. and do their job is just another example of why they are unfit to lead.

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