The Washington Post

A GOP vs. GOP payroll tax fight

I’m the Republican in The Insiders, so I’m not supposed to say “ditto Carter” to my Democratic counterpart.

I try to be a conscientious follower of the news, a clear conservative and mostly a Republican team player. But I’ve lost track of how the GOP defines success on the payroll tax issue. I’ve lost track of the true Republican position; I’ve even lost track of the good we can claim we have done. We seem to have put President Obama in a win-win position. How do we define success or victory now? I’m not asking this question to make a point; I’m asking because I don’t know the answer. I hope to hear from some wise readers. Most of our congressional leadership have taken clear positions, not surrendered, and achieved an equilibrium with the branches of the government Republicans do not control. Remember, Republicans control one-half of one-third of the government. I don’t think we have a leadership problem in the GOP House caucus; we have a followership problem.

The only people House Republicans have over a barrel are other Republicans. We are even about to make Obama a legitimate tax cutter.

I’ve said in the past that we were mishandling this, but I didn’t know that much of the GOP House caucus had become hypnotized by the president and were willing to do his bidding. We have gone from handling this issue in a clumsy way to creating a calamity for the party. The president’s political handlers could not have dreamed of a better scenario.

At some point, we should not hold out for something we will not get and the public isn’t asking for. To pretend we have accomplished something is neither honest nor productive.

There is no threshold issue at stake here, and no precedent that will bind us. This is the wrong fight at the wrong time and we are losing to us.

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
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