So, it looks like that deal was short lived. Despite attempts to tie the payroll tax holiday extension and an extension of unemployment benefits to the year end spending bill, House Republicans have now changed their mind about the extensions now that the budget bill has passed.
And everyone pretends to be shocked.
The House GOP has determined that they are unhappy with the bill negotiated in senate that would allow a two month extension of the payroll tax and unemployment insurance, even though they will be getting a faster consideration of the Keystone Pipeline, a favorite pet project of the party. They are now asking for a chance to renegotiate the senate bill and reconcile a new version, despite the fact that the Senators have already left town for the holidays and the original passed the senate 89 to 10.
Although both Republicans and Democrats don’t seem entirely happy with the idea of a two month extension, the parties are against it for utterly different reasons. The Democrats, because they feel that two months is just a stopgap measure and that they will just have to fight for it again as soon as they return from break, and the Republicans because they don’t want any extension in the first place, saying the assistance it would provide average Americans isn’t worth the possibility of the country racking up more debt.
Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has made it clear that there will be no passage of the senate bill as is. “It’s pretty clear that I and our Members oppose the Senate bill. How can you do tax policy for two months? We believe it’s time for the Senate to work with the House to complete our business for the year.” Boehner proposes that the senate should instead pass the House’s version of the bill, which would extend the payroll tax extension and unemployment benefits for a full year — a bill filled with with so many Republican poison pills it was written guaranteed to never become law.
The posturing makes it clear that the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was given the go ahead to allow Republicans to vote for the Senate version, knowing that the House would then try to kill the bill all together by demanding a compromise between the House and Senate version. That would provide the GOP with one last chance to say that it is Democrats refusing to compromise that makes the extension fail, despite the fact that Democrats compromised heavily just to get the Senate version passed.
Once more, the GOP proves that they want tax breaks, but only for the wealthy. If there is no agreement in the next two weeks, 160 million Americans will see what will amount to about a $1000 tax increase per year.
Photo from republicanconference via flickr creative commons
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