Speaker John Boehner’s announcement that a deal has been reached on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut (to buy time to negotiate a year-long deal, mind you) is welcome news. That means 160 million Americans won’t get slapped with a tax increase on Jan. 1. That means unemployment benefits will continue to flow to millions of Americans who want to work but can’t find work. That means the drag on the economy analysts warned it would have would not happen. Merry Christmas, everyone.
Boehner’s colossal cave comes after three days of being pummeled by Senate Republicans, President Obama and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the latter being the equivalent of the Republican principal’s office. Boehner said, “The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension.” He added, “We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas.”
But during his live press conference late Thursday afternoon, Boehner looked like and sounded like a haunted man. Unlike this morning, when he stood with fellow GOPers to defy a demand from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass the two-month extension, the leader from Ohio stood alone to deliver the news. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virg.), who slammed President Obama for going Christmas shopping yesterday with his dog Bo rather than help save House Republicans from themselves, wasn’t there. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who failed in his job to be an early-warning system for the Speaker by knowing where the votes were or weren’t, wasn’t there, either.
The American people are the winners in this latest bit of Washington craziness. But Boehner comes out the biggest loser. The man from Ohio has little to no control over his recalcitrant caucus. The inmates are running the asylum. If we didn’t appreciate it during the debt-ceiling crisis last August we most certainly do now.