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The Battle Over The Payroll Tax Cut

Has anyone told the Republicans in Congress that there is an election coming up in 2012? If so, would one not assume they want to win said election? Again, assuming that is the case and they do want to win next November, why are they acting like a bunch of newcomers to the game we fondly call Washington politics? Let me be clear, I do not approve of the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut. If we are going to go that route, it should be for at least a year at a time. We have had quite enough of kicking the can down the road, thank you very much.

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Personally, I would just as soon see the tax cut expire, as I think it provides very little economic boost. It is, and always has been, a political ploy by President Obama to portray himself as a tax cutter. He who will be enacting one of the largest tax increases in American history in 2013, when his signature Obamacare begins taking more and more effect. He who has been lecturing Americans for weeks and months about how the rich need to pay their fair share. He of the party that wanted to pay for the payroll tax cut with a surcharge on millionaires. Yes, he’s the one.

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The Republicans in Congress have allowed this President and his party to out-maneuver them at every turn. They have allowed them to manipulate the facts, to frame the debate. It doesn’t help that the media is falling all over themselves to make sure the rest of America knows the Republicans hate the middle class and are only looking to help the rich. If one didn’t know better, one would think the Republicans are the scourge of the earth. In reality, they are not, but that hasn’t kept them from losing political ground to a President and a party when they should have been gaining ground.

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There is no reason in the world the Republicans should be losing the battle over the payroll tax cut. They have the high ground, the moral ground. Their’s is the correct position to hold. They are right to ask the two prevailing questions about the issue at hand. Why should they only extend it for two months and should it be extended at all. They are correct to state that it provides little to no economic boost. They are correct to point out that it is taking money from the Social Security trust fund, in that the tax being cut is the tax that is used to populate said trust fund.

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At the risk of incurring the wrath of some of my readers, I am not fond of the job our Republican leaders have been doing in Washington. No one said it was going to be easy, but John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have not been doing a bang-up job of leading the Republicans in Congress. It was because of McConnell that we have the two-month extension that was passed by the Senate. The Democrats thought they had this one in the bag, until John Boehner found out his rank and file members were not going to go along to get along. That’s not entirely Boehner’s fault, but it is what it is. Really, it doesn’t matter how right the Republicans are on the issues, they are still losing the battle of public opinion. I don’t like that idea, but again, it is what it is. The Republicans need to get a handle on this, otherwise they are going to lose even more political ground to the Democrats, ground they can ill afford to lose.

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So much for Christmas being a time of joy and wonder. All I am seeing right now is a great deal of bah, humbug.

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UPDATE: As of late this afternoon, it appears the Republicans in the House of Representatives have reached an agreement with the Democrats to extend the payroll tax cut for two months. Here is the statement from Speaker John Boehner, courtesy of Jamie Dupree.

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“Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators.  Under the terms of our agreement, a new bill will be approved by the House that reflects the bipartisan agreement in the Senate along with new language that allows job creators to process and withhold payroll taxation under the same accounting structure that is currently in place.  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.  We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas.  I thank our Members – particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching – for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families.”

About LD Jackson

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LD Jackson has written 2053 posts in this blog.

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Founder and author of the political and news commentary blog Political Realities. I have always loved to write, but never have I felt my writing was more important than in this present day. If I have changed one mind or impressed one American about the direction our country is headed, then I will consider my endeavors a success. I take the tag line on this blog very seriously. Above all else, in search of the truth.

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  • Bunkerville

    My thoughts exactly. We had Obama on the ropes right after the past election, and they let him off. The GOPers are going to give Obama the election.

    • LD Jackson

      If they are not very careful, that is what is going to happen.

  • Sherman Broder

    LD, help me out here. I am a slow learner when it comes to political wrangling in Congress.

    Didn’t the President a few days ago INSIST that the Congress extend the payroll tax cut for an entire year? Didn’t he say that he would hold Congress in Washington until they did extend it for an entire year?

    Then, the Democrat Senate defies its President and extends the payroll cut for only two months.

    The House Republicans balk, INSISTING that the payroll tax cut be extended for a full year and INSISTING they are willing to stay in Washington until it is extended for an entire year?

    Isn’t the Republican House trying to do exactly what the Democrat President wants?

    Unless I’m wrong, this fight can’t be about payroll cuts. It has to be about other measures tacked onto the same bill, like taxes on the “rich,” the Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, etc. etc. But this is nothing new. Both parties now are trying to win the “spin” battle.

    So why don’t the Republicans simply buy ads saying they tried to cooperate with the President but HE rebuffed them and the DEMOCRAT senate left town?

    [Or do I have this all wrong?]

    • LD Jackson

      I wish I had the answer to that question, Sherman. Time after time, we have witnessed this. The GOP always seems to lose the rhetoric and media battle. It doesn’t matter if they should have the upper hand or not. It doesn’t matter how much they are in the right. It always seems to go badly for them. To be honest, it gets a little old.

  • Mike

    I agree with most everything you wrote Larry except for your characterization of this clash as between Republicans and Democrats. The Senate vote was 89-10! A LOT of Republican Senators voted for this compromise bill and are angry with the GOP House for balking. I think it’s an awful bill for all the reasons you pointed out but it’s just for two months and hopefully can be “fixed” when they come back from recess. In the meantime the political implications are hurting the GOP badly. I guess the good news is it keeps the cameras away from the GOP candidates for a little while so we don’t see them sticking their feet in their mouths quite as regularly.

    • LD Jackson

      That characterization was a poor choice, yes. I should have said it was a clash between some Republicans and the Democrats and the rest of the Republicans. I know a lot of this is steeped in political gamesmanship, but the GOP is not handling this well at all.

  • William McCullough

    The campaign strategists for the Republicans act like rank amateurs. At the rate they are going Obama is a shoo-in for a second term. The Dems have a slash and burn strategy fueled by obfuscation and deflection. Meanwhile, middling Mitt wastes his time attacking his fellows instead of attacking and building a strategic minded campaign against Obama and his socialist cabal. Should Obama be re-elected the Republicans will have no one to blame but themselves….WM

    • LD Jackson

      I am afraid you are right, William. The GOP is not doing a good job at keeping the spotlight on Obama, the Democrats, and their tactics. If I didn’t know better, I would think this is their first rodeo.

  • Trestin

    Remember when they had Bill Clinton, and destroyed themselves. It’s happening again.

    • LD Jackson

      It sure is, Trestin.

  • Steve Dennis

    I couldn’t agree with you more Larry, at this point I would rather see the tax cuts expire than go through this again in two months because I am tiring of this band-aid but it looks as if Boehner has caved yet again. The fact that the Democrats were allowed to frame this to make Obama look like the tax cutter is proof to me that if the Republicans hold onto the House in 2012 the first order of business should be finding a new leader.

    • LD Jackson

      I have honestly tried to give John Boehner the benefit of the doubt, but he has been outmaneuvered by the Democrats at every turn. We need a stronger Speaker, but let’s not forget Mitch McConnell. He needs to retire and allow someone with a backbone take his place.

      • Steve Dennis

        I tried to give him chance also and he has been a disappointment, he is not up to the task. You are right about McConnell as well, it is time for him to go. We have a leadership issue in the Republican party and hopefully it will be corrected in 2012 if they somehow manage to hold on.

  • bill

    mr. jackson was closest to the mark here in pointing out that the cost for this ‘hand-out’
    is a 30% decrease in social security revenue. he writes:

    “They are correct to point out that it is taking money from the Social Security trust fund,
    in that the tax being cut is the tax that is used to populate said trust fund.”

    ~total s.s. payroll revenue fy 2010 was 850b give or take.
    ~after payouts the fund experienced a deficit of 46b.
    ~the proposed extention will decrease s.s. revenue for fy 2012 by 160b.

    the bill’s authors’ intimate they will off-set the short-fall with new ‘fees’ on our bankrupt
    gse’s fannie and freddie. need i explain the lunacy in this…

    less taxation is a good thing but only as the natural result of sound money
    and a healthy free-market economy.

    those of us who argued the ‘moral dangers’ of welfare three decades ago
    were happy to accept ‘unemployment benefits’ if we lost our jobs. some who were
    fortunate enough to remain employed since 2008 complained that the 99 week
    extention was egregious. now those same folks are demonizing the tea-party caucus
    for voting against a forty dollar a week socialist pacifier. did any of those ‘middle-class’
    plants standing with mr. obama today care to question where their extra bucks were
    coming from? nope: it’s just obama-money and we deserve it.

    historically speaking; we may as well be loading the redcoats’ muskets…b

  • Harrison

    All this “tax cut” has been doing is to simply take money away from Social Security which is where the money was “found.” The GOP allowed themselves to get roped into looking like idiots right around the holidays. Smart move.