White House press secretary Jay Carney warned House Republicans on Monday that Americans will be “justifiably angry” if the House fails to approve a two-month extension to the payroll tax cut that was passed by the Senate this weekend.
Ramping up pressure on the House GOP before a scheduled vote on the legislation Monday night, Carney blamed the House leadership for playing “Kabuki theater” with the negotiations. He singled out House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) for double-crossing the Senate, saying Boehner assured leaders in the other chamber that he would support the tax cut plan, only to turn around and reject it after the Senate acted.
“He was for it before he was against it,” Carney said of Boehner.
Carney said the tax holiday, which puts an extra $1,000 per year in the pockets of working families, remains President Obama’s “highest priority.”
If the tax cut expires Jan.1, Carney added, “people will wake up and and spend the holiday season trying to figure out how to manage their budgets with $1,000 less in their paychecks this year because of this kind of nonsensical behavior.”
Boehner has said he never supported the two-month extension, arguing that he and his GOP conference would prefer a one-year extension that does not “kick the can down the road.”
The Senate bill, supported by the White House, would establish a two-month extension, forcing Obama and Congress to take up the issue again in February and try to find a way to pay for an extension through the end of next year.
Boehner has said he expects the House to reject the Senate plan Monday night and move to bicameral conference. But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has said he will not call the Senate, which adjourned Friday for holiday recess, back into session if the House votes down the deal.
Obama has delayed his annual holiday vacation in Hawaii, which had been scheduled to start last Saturday, to remain in Washington. Carney said the president remained engaged in trying to ensure that the tax cut is approved but declined to say whether Obama had spoken to anyone on Capitol Hill on Monday.
Asked whether the president was talking with Boehner, Carney said, “It’s not our job to negotiate between him and Senate Republicans.”
Carney added that “it takes compromise to get things done here. Something happened Saturday in the Senate that has not happened often this year: 89 senators voted for something that was not a post office or a commemorative coin. . . . Americans who were paying attention to this must be pulling their hair out seeing the House refusing to do what the Senate did.”