Obama to House GOP: You don't really want the middle class's payroll taxes to go up, do you?

Alternate headline: “Only guy in America who’s enjoying this congressional clusterfark pretends like he wants it to end.” I got a kick out of Boehner’s new op-ed this afternoon calling on Obama to step in and lead the two sides to a deal because, really, why on earth would The One do that? He refused to dirty his hands with the far more consequential negotiations of the Super Committee because he wanted to preserve the “do-nothing Congress” meme as a campaign straw man for next year. If his campaign strategy mattered more to him than a grand bargain worth trillions in deficit reduction, it surely matters more than some ticky-tack standoff over the payroll tax. But don’t take my word for it:

The fraying of a deal to extend payroll-tax cuts and unemployment benefits gives President Obama a golden opportunity to tar House Republicans as the source of Washington’s dysfunction while championing a popular issue…

“It’s incredibly tricky ground,” said Lanae Erickson, deputy director of the Social Policy and Politics Program of the centrist Democratic group Third Way. But “there is an opportunity to capitalize on this and hang it around necks of Republicans,” she said. “I think the American people’s patience is wearing thin with the tea party, and they’re really tired of government being held hostage by them. This is just going to be another nail in that coffin.”

More from the Times:

But even some Republican strategists said Monday night that party leaders in the House had put their members in a very difficult position.

“Democrats are clearly on the high ground of reasonableness here,” Steve Schmidt, who helped run Senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said on MSNBC. “When you’re in a rock-throwing fight, you always want to be on the side that’s throwing the rocks downhill.”

He added: “It’s not a great fight for the Republicans.”

Gallup announced today that Congress’s approval hit a record low this month just as both WaPo and CNN are reporting O’s job approval is back near 50 percent, his best showing since the spring. I hope that’s a coincidence but I’m honestly not sure. From the CNN poll: “By a 50% to 31% margin, people questioned say they have more confidence in the president than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country. Obama held a much narrower 44% to 39% margin in March.” Exit question: Chuck Schumer says the House GOP will end up caving and passing the Senate’s two-month extension. Is he right?

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