Saturday, December 3, 2011

Have GOP arch conservatives overplayed their hand on the payroll tax?

It's been obvious for most of this Congressional session that the insensible, intractable, implacable, immovable, irrevocable GOP conservatives have been running the show.   The have also been running their leadership, throwing useful compromise positions worked out by their leadership onto the fire, and in so doing perplexing that same leadership.  The number of times that John Boehner backtracked his positions so that they finally aligned with the Tea Party's ideological pinings was apalling.   Mitch McConnell didn't have quite those obstacles to deal with, but he was an obstacle himself, declaring that some negotiating positions that the Democrats thought were good starting points were dead on arrival even before they had left the station!

But the GOP conservatives may have outsmarted and outflanked themselves on the payroll tax cut extension that they rejected a few days ago.   One angle is that they did this to maintain poor economic conditions, because the vast majority of economists agree that reinstating the payroll tax will cause a reduction in economic growth and a likely maintenance of high unemployment, two factors that will influence President Obama's reelection chances negatively.  Never mind the fact that doing this is bad for the country.  Another angle is that they are so beholden to their wealthy campaign donors and their ideological positions that they cannot abandon those positions even if it becomes obvious that they're favoring the rich over the middle class and those lower than that. 

So by rejecting the payroll tax extension, bugging Boehner and McConnell in the process (this was mainly a Senate thing), they hand the Dems a beautiful campaign issue, gift wrapped in time for Christmas. Maybe they won the day, but this could definitely turn into a turning point for Dem prospects in 2012.

So thanks for that, GOP, and especially you Tea Party folks.

Why Dems think they’re on offensive after payroll tax cut failure

 Dems intend to relentlessly frame their message around this idea: They want government to act to restore the middle class’s security and future, while Republicans are implacably and ideologically hostile towards any such government action, particularly if it means the wealthy have to sacrifice anything in the process. Dems are gambling that the public’s grasp of this basic difference in priorities between the parties will overcome the GOP’s argument that Obama’s economic policies have failed and continuing public unhappiness with Obama over chronic economic suffering.

Payroll Tax Cut Extension Rejected In Senate Vote  

"Tonight's votes highlight a sharp contrast between the two parties: Democrats voted to put more money in the pockets of the middle class families who need it most, while Republicans would only support a bill that exacts a price from middle class workers while protecting the wealthiest Americans," Murray, the fourth-ranking Democrat, said.
which also has this:

President Barack Obama released his own statement to hammer the middle class message that's emerging as a key theme of his campaign.
        "Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share," he said. "That is unacceptable. It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet."
 There's a sports saying about teams in pennant races controlling their own destiny.  With this rejection of the payroll tax extension, the GOP lost quite a bit of their control.

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