Republicans didn’t bother to wait to hear President Obama call for bipartisan cooperation at the payroll tax extension signing. They have heard it before and consider it entirely disingenuous. The Associated Press reports:
President Barack Obama is urging Congress to “keep going” and work on more measures to help the nation’s economy after lawmakers agreed to extend the payroll tax cut.
Obama says lawmakers should act on measures to help homeowners pay their mortgages and assist small businesses. He also wants Congress to pass the so-called Buffett rule, which seeks to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year pay at least 30 percent of their incomes in taxes.
How raising Warren Buffett’s taxes would create growth or jobs is a bit hazy. But it was more fodder for his class-warfare-oriented campaign.
A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told me, “If only the President’s record matched his rhetoric, but alas, his policies have failed to create the jobs promised, fix our economy, or begin getting the fiscal house in order. Simply put, he has ignored the biggest challenges that hardworking taxpayers face. President Obama will have an opportunity to put his money where his mouth is in March, by supporting the bipartisan JOBS Act (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) and Leader Cantor’s 20% tax cut for small businesses to create jobs.”
Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is having none of the president’s gauzy rhetoric. He points to four pieces of legislation that have passed the House but stalled in the Senate, all of which would accelerate access to capital for small businesses. His communications director, Don Stewart, e-mailed me: “If he’s looking for more bipartisan action, here are four bills that he supports, and that passed the House with more than 400 votes. All four are being held up by the DEMOCRAT-controlled Senate.”
No one has been more aggressive than en. Jeff Sesions (R-Ala.) in going after the Senate Democrats and the White House for their delinquency in passing a budget and addressing our substantial fiscal problems. His spokesman didn’t bother to conceal his disdain when I asked about the president’s plea for cooperation. “President Obama’s enthusiasm for spending gigantic sums of taxpayer money — accruing five trillion dollars in new gross debt, with a budget that would generate another eleven — runs parallel with his disinterest in presenting any credible reforms, whether to streamline the tax code, reduce energy costs, or to avert the debt crisis his policies are helping to materialize. As the economy struggles, the White House even asserts ‘no opinion’ on the Democrat-run Senate resolving to suppress a budget plan for a third straight year.”
The Republicans have a point. The president deemed the payroll tax extension the single critical piece of legislation. There’s no possibility, after kicking the can last year, that in an election year the president will take up the hard work of entitlement reform. He has suggested tax hikes to be sure, but nothing resembling the sort of tax reform his own debt commission recommended. There is a stack of legislation piled up in the Senate that is unlikely to come to a vote.
So, don’t expect anything to get done this year, even passage of budget. Obama is in 24/7 campaign mode.