* Conservatives discover a tax cut they don’t like: Today the House GOP will vote on its proposal to extend the payroll tax cut. House GOP leaders want the tax cut extended, and are predicting that the measure will pass.
What’s instructive is what GOP leaders had to do in order to get House conservatives to support extending this tax cut. You read that right: Conservatives had to be cajoled into supporting a tax cut — one that benefits workers. They have come up with a multitude of excuses for not supporting it. They complained that it’s temporary (an objection they didn’t have when temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich). They said it won’t stimulate the economy (it goes without saying that tax cuts for the rich do benefit the economy). And they said it isn’t paid for (it goes without saying that tax cuts for the rich pay for themselves).
This last objection is where it gets particularly interesting. As the Post reports this morning, House GOP leaders were able to win the support of conservatives by offering a proposal that pays for the extension with more spending cuts, including extending a pay freeze for government employees. Democrats wanted to pay for the extension with a small surtax on income over $1 million. But of course, this was a nonstarter for conservatives. They would rather pay for this tax cut for workers with spending cuts that impact other workers — public sector ones — something that is unlikely to do much for the recovery.
Meanwhile, leading 2012 GOP candidates like Mitt Romney and Newt Gingich — who are competing among themselves as to who can offer the rich a bigger permanent tax cut — had to be dragged into supporting this temporary tax cut for workers.
Still, you have to give credit to House GOP leaders, given the constraints placed on them by the Tea Partyers. They are very likely to pass this bill, which would regain some of the leverage they’ve lost to Dems on this issue and again demonstrate their ability to unite Republicans, despite the Tea Party wing’s self-indulgences and flights of fancy. The question is why this should have even been difficult in the first place, given that we’re talking about — again — a tax cut.
* Obama reelect reality check of the day: Gallup has the sobering news: In a dozen battleground states, the percentage of Democrats has eroded, while the number of Republicans has jumped — and Obama trails Romney in the totality of those states by five points.
Key footnote: If Obama can hold on to half the electoral votes in those states, he’ll win reelection.
* The GOP primary process, explained: Sean Trende has a very detailed explanation of the procedural ins and outs of what’s now expected to be a very long and intense contest. Key questions: Will there be a brokered convention? Will a long, drawn out primary leave the eventual nominee stronger, or weaker? Can the “establishment” in effect declare a winner?
* Iowa evangelicals just aren’t that into Romney: A fascinating look at the deliberations and conflicts evangelical Christian voters are experiencing as they try to persuade themselves to overlook Newt Gingrich’s adulturous past, in order to avoid supporting the worse alternative, slick big government liberal Mitt Romney.
* Romney worried about New Hampshire? It’s very telling that Romney chose to unleash his most direct personal attack yet on Gingrich in New Hampshire, the state that’s an absolute must-win for him now that Gingrich may well sweep all the other early states.
* Newt-mentum!!! A key development as Rudy Giuliani comes out and says Newt may be more electable than Mitt, because the former may be more competitive with Reagan Democrats and blue collar whites in swing states. The last thing Mitt needs right now is for leading GOPers to chip away at his electability argument.
* The conservative case against Mitt’s electability: Erick Erickson understands exactly how the Obama team intends to deal with Romney:
if you are foolish, given that the President intends to campaign on a moral case against success and a lot of people are receptive to it, you might want to put up a candidate who made his money doing leveraged buy outs, laying off people, and restructuring companies. That’s precisely why Mitt Romney is such a terrible fit for the zeitgeist of this election season.
Indeed, Dems intend to point to multiple aspects of Romney’s profile in order to paint him as the candidate of the one percent.
* Why Newt could really be the GOP nominee: Good stuff from Ed Kilgore on how the conservative movement’s confidence in eventual victory in the grand ideological struggle with liberalism means Newt is likely to win the GOP nomination — making him the weakest GOP nominee since Barry Goldwater.
* And another day, another casual Romney falsehood: Politifact blows up Romney’s claim that Obama is the only president who has ever “cut” Medicare, a taking point that is widely echoed among Republicans.
This one is a twofer: The $500 million in reduced future spending on Medicare does not cut benefits, and unlike Obama, other presidents actually have cut them, including ... Saint Ronald Reagan.
What else is happening?