The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board Wednesday morning issued a withering critique of congressional Republicans’ handling of the tax fight, saying that they “have thoroughly botched the politics” of the issue and have “achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter.” The editorial argued that at this point, “Republicans would do best to cut their losses and find a way to extend the payroll holiday quickly.”
Democrats seized on the editorial. “When the Wall Street Journal says they botched this badly, I think you can pretty well say that they botched it badly,” said House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.).
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) also weighed in via Twitter on the side of the Journal, calling the editorial “right on the mark.”
McCain is among several Senate Republicans, including Scott Brown (Mass.) and Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), who in recent days have called for the House to approve the bipartisan two-month deal that passed the Senate rather than continue to call for a one-year extension before the holidays.
In an interview Wednesday on CNBC, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said there was “no question” that Republicans are “getting killed now in public opinion” over the extension. He said he agreed with the Journal editorial and urged House Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut so they can “just get this behind us and move on.”
Obama called House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday to urge him again to allow a vote on the Senate-passed measure, which would also extend unemployment benefits and avert a cut in the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat Medicare patients. Failure to renew the payroll tax holiday would hit roughly 160 million Americans in their pocketbooks next year, costing the average worker about $1,000.
Obama emphasized that Senate Republicans and Democrats had joined to pass the bipartisan measure, and he said House Republicans should drop their resistance to it and pass it as well, giving the two sides time to work out a full-year extension that the House GOP lawmakers have demanded, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
Carney said Obama also called Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to commend him for working with Senate Republicans on the compromise.
“The bipartisan compromise exists,” Carney said. “We have to get this two-month extension done, or else taxes will go up on the American people. The House has the ability to call up the Senate legislation, pass it and move on, and taxes will not go up.” He added that “the ball is in the House’s court” and that there is “an avenue out of this blind alley . . . that they have driven themselves into.”