* Tea Party conservatives dislike taxes, but they dislike Obama even more: Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner announced that House Republicans won’t support the Senate’s deal to temporarily extend the payroll tax cut for over 150 million workers. The compromise prompted an uprising among the House GOP’s Tea Party wing.
The opposition from Tea Partyers raises the question: Is denying Obama a victory — one that would help the economy, which could make Obama’s reelection prospects a shade brighter — a higher priority for them than even cutting taxes?
Conservatives have a variety of explanations for opposing the compromise. One is that it’s only two months. But as Ezra Klein and Steve Benen point out, they won’t agree to a clean year-long extension, which is why the shorter-term one had to be negotiated in the first place. Another claim is that the Senate deal isn’t really a compromise, as GOP Rep. Tom Cole put it. But Republicans got their number one priority — the Keystone XL pipeline — included in the deal, while Democrats dropped their number one demand, i.e., that the extension be paid for by a millionaire surtax. Senate Republicans overwhelmingly supported the deal. If this deal isn’t a compromise, then the word has lost all meaning for conservatives, which may be the real story here.
A third reason is that a two-month extension is bad politics for Republicans. On a conference call, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy reportedly argued against the compromise partly because it would allow Obama to again browbeat Republicans into extending the tax cut during his State of the Union address in January. Such balanced priorities!
This latest impasse reveals just how extreme, intransigent, self-indulgent and hostile to basic norms of governing the Tea Party wing has become. It’s as if compromise itself must be opposed, for its own sake, regardless of what any particular compromise contains. This is another case in which the public is seeing with total clarity the disastrous results of giving the Tea Party a seat at the governing table.
The House is set to vote on the measure, and will likely defeat it, Monday night. House Republicans may come up with a new version, but Democrats insist the Senate won’t come back to approve any new version, so the way forward is unclear. For now, Dems insist that returning would be throwing Republicans a lifeline: If the tax cut expires, it will be solely their fault, because the Senate has passed a deal, and the President is ready to sign it.
* The House GOP’s case for opposing the deal: As spelled out by a senior Republican:
House Republicans oppose the Senate short-term payroll bill because the country needs certainty and this bill doesn’t provide it. Democrats and Republicans agree the payroll tax cut must be extended for a full year to provide relief for Americans struggling in President Obama’s economy. The House last week passed a bill to do just that — but instead of passing the House bill or any other full-year extension, the Senate Democratic leader passed a two-month extension and then went on vacation. The country is tired of Congress lurching from crisis to crisis. It’s time for Congress to do its work. No more punting.
* Romney continues to profit from layoffs: A great scoop from the New York Times reports that the arrangement Mitt Romney made upon leaving Bain Capital 13 years ago has ensure that Romney continues to be paid millions of dollars a year by the company — even as it continues to restructure companies. In other words, he contines to pull in big bucks partly as a result of layoffs.
As I reported here on Friday, the battle to define Romney’s Bain tenure will be central in 2012, with Dems seeking to cast it as emblematic of the sort of predatory capitalism that helped lead to the crisis, in order to undermine Romney’s efforts to cast them as proof of his “job creating” credentials. This latest revelation will bolster the Dem case.
* Dems go on offense over GOP payroll tax cut opposition: The DCCC will begin pumping robocalls today into the districts of 20 vulnerable House Republicans, hitting them over the House GOP’s opposition to the payroll tax cut compromise.
DCCC chair Steve Israel released statements in the districts of dozens of Republicans, hitting them for “risking a $1,000 tax hike on the middle class, rather than stand up to Tea Party extremists.”
The effort to use the Tea Party to tar the GOP failed miserably in 2010, But voters have now seen what happens when the Tea Party is allowed to govern — what’s happening now is a perfect case in point — so the strategy might be more effective this time around.
* Schumer ratchets up the pressure: Chuck Schumer says Dems won’t bail the GOP out of its current political predicament:
“There are only two choices for the House Republicans at this point. Pass this bipartisan compromise or else they alone will be responsible for letting taxes rise on the middle class.”
It remains to be seen whether Dems will really make good on this threat, obviously.
* Dems leave themselves wiggle room: Indeed, the statement from Harry Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson doesn’t rule out the possibility that the Senate could return, only saying that Dems have “no plans” to do so.
* Dems debut a new slogan: Also in the above link, from a senior House Dem: “The Republican Do-Nothing Congress.”
* What happened between Boehner and McConnell? One thing that’s still unclear about the House GOP opposition: Whether Boehner gave Mitch McConnell the green light to negotiate last week’s Senate compromise before getting caught off guard by his own caucus’s opposition.
Roll Call reports that the two men were in regular contact while the Senate negotiated the deal, which suggests Boehner may have given it his private blessing before announcing Sunday that it was a non-starter.
* Allowing payroll tax cut to expire would hamper recovery: Independent analysts fear it would cause families to spend less at precisely the wrong moment.
* Why conservatives may rally around Gingrich: As E.J. Dionne says, he speaks to the conservative base’s fear and loathing of Obama, and its seething resentment of the One World Liberal Order, far more effectively than Romney does. E.J. adds that this worldview is a monster that was created by the GOP establishment that is now so panicked about Gingrich’s candidacy.
* Why Romney’s casual falsehoods may work: As I’ve noted here, what’s striking about Romney’s nonstop falsehoods, big and small, is not just their frequency, but how casual and effortless they are. Paul Krugman adds more: Romney is cheerfully aware that he can count on the media not to call him out for them, or to pretend that there’s an equivalent on the Dem side, when there just isn’t.
* Not all companies are willing to legitimize bigotry: Consider doing your Christmas shopping at the companies that unlike Lowe’s did not yank their ads from “All American Muslim” when a relatively tiny band of bigots shouted “boo.”
* And the right has found some new welfare queens: Collectors of unemployment insurance.
What else is happening?