Michael Steel, communications director for House Speaker John Boehner, e-mailed to clarify the GOP’s position on the payroll tax cut negotiations. “If Senate Democrats refuse to offer any pay-fors that can pass the Senate (let alone the House) and we go with this backup plan, payroll would pass without pay-fors and Medicare and UI would presumably pass with them.”
So that answers the question from this morning’s Wonkbook: The GOP isn’t saying that if Democrats don’t make a deal, they can have the payroll tax cut but watch unemployment insurance benefits expire and Medicare get hammered. They’re saying the payroll tax cut can be split off without doing damage to the negotiations over unemployment benefits and the Medicare patch.
It’s not, in other words, a trap. Or if it is, it’s not one I’m seeing.