McCain to House GOP: This payroll-tax standoff is hurting the party, you know

Is he right? Over to you, WSJ:

GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.

The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.

Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he’s spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible…

At this stage, Republicans would do best to cut their losses and find a way to extend the payroll holiday quickly. Then go home and return in January with a united House-Senate strategy that forces Democrats to make specific policy choices that highlight the differences between the parties on spending, taxes and regulation. Wisconsin freshman Senator Ron Johnson has been floating a useful agenda for such a strategy. The alternative is more chaotic retreat and the return of all-Democratic rule.

McCain’s worry is that public esteem for Congress will slide further, which seems nearly impossible at this point. The greater concern, I think, is House and Senate Republicans taking a page from Maverick and waging a war of words against each other in the media as this thing drags on while Obama sits back and cackles. Scott Brown’s already throwing stones, no doubt to try to impress Massachusetts independents who might be intrigued by Elizabeth Warren’s class-warfare appeals to the middle class. Quote: “It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions… We are Americans first; now is not the time for drawing lines in the sand.”

Major Garrett puts the odds of a House GOP cave-in at 50 percent. I’d say they’re even higher than that provided that Boehner can get Reid to agree to add some sort of small face-saving GOP goodie to the two-month payroll-tax holiday extension in order to squeeze a few more votes out of the House caucus. Some extra spending cuts, maybe? Obama would go along that. He’s a big deficit hawk, you know.

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David Strom 6:01 AM on June 06, 2023