Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, December 22nd, 2011.


Cute Overload

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blogging

The bleep with politics. I want cute little animals being cute.

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They Caved

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Obama Administration

I hear the House GOP agreed to sign off on the two-month deal. Details to come.

OK, here’s a short write-up in TIme.

Steve Benen:

What changed Boehner’s mind? Or more accurately, what changed Boehner’s mind again? The Speaker, as recently as Saturday, wanted to pass the Senate compromise and send his caucus home for the holidays. They rebelled and the leader quickly became the follower.

By some accounts, this happened again today. House Republicans —- Wisconsin’s Sean Duffy, Arkansas’ Rick Crawford, Pennsylvania’s Charlie Dent, among others — started breaking ranks after getting an earful in their local districts. GOP lawmakers who wanted to fight the Senate Braveheart-style came to the conclusion, “Maybe that Senate bill isn’t so bad after all.” When his members reversed course, the Speaker again took his cues from them, rather than the other way around.

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They Blinked

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Congress, Obama Administration, Republican Party

Well, the Senate is blinking, anyway — Mitch McConnell has called on the House Republicans to pass the two-month extension on the payroll tax bill. And then President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid came out and said they agreed with Mitch McConnell. The House GOP is truly painted into a corner.

Steve Benen writes,

The timing of McConnell’s announcement was rather remarkable. House Republican leaders, including Speaker Boehner, had just wrapped up a press conference on the Hill, telling reporters that the House GOP caucus won’t give in, won’t pass the temporary extension, and won’t do anything until a conference committee convenes (the conference committee would invariably kill the tax cut).

McConnell, almost immediately after Boehner wrapped up his remarks, cut the legs out from underneath the House GOP leadership and sided with Harry Reid’s proposed solution.

I honestly can’t remember the last time we saw a Senate Republican leader and a House Republican leader this far apart on a high-profile policy dispute. Everything about McConnell’s new statement appears intended to smack Boehner down, just as the Speaker tries to find his footing.

And then President Obama spoke at the White House

President Obama today endorsed a proposed compromise by the Senate Republican leader on the payroll tax cut impasse: have House Republicans pass a temporary two-month extension, while Senate Democrats agree to negotiate a year-long extension at the same time.

“We should go ahead and get this done,” Obama said at the White House. “This should not be hard.”

In pitching his compromise, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Republican-run House should approve a two-month extension now, while the Democratic-run Senate should agree to immediate negotiations on a year-long extension as requested by the House. “We can and should do both,” McConnell said in a statement.

Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said Democrats seconded McConnell’s idea: “Once the House passes the Senate’s bipartisan compromise to hold middle class families harmless while we work out our differences, I will be happy to restart the negotiating process to forge a year-long extension.”

As far as I can see the “proposed compromise by Senate Republican leaders” is what the Senate had already approved on Saturday before the House GOP decided to throw a hissy fit.

Apparently GOP senators now are worried the payroll tax standoff will hurt them politically.

And, truly, I can’t imagine what the House GOP were thinking when they decided to throw their tantrum. Talk about an overplayed hand. The word last Monday was that Boehner had tried to sell the extension to the House GOP, but he was shot down by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Tex.).

Today Boehner tried to muddy the waters once again by claiming the GOP is opposed to a two-month deal:

“A one year bill, like the president requested and like the House produced, is simply better for jobs and better for our economy. A one year bill provides, on average, about $1,000 for American workers as opposed to the Senate bill which would provide a measly $166.”

But the “deal” was never an either/or between two months and twelve months. The two-month extension was just to give Congress more time to negotiate before the old bills expire, on January 1.

Frank James writes at NPR,

Actually, all the players say they’d like a year-long extension. The sticking point, however, has been how to pay for it, with Republicans demanding spending cuts to programs that benefit middle and lower income Americans while Democrats have wanted taxes to be increased on households reporting gross adjusted income of $1 million or more.

President Obama told Boehner yesterday that until next year, his only options are to pass the two-month extension or go piss in the wind. And now Mitch McConnell is seconding that.

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