It may not be a happy holiday on Capitol Hill. House Republicans are threatening to reject the Senate's two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. Speaker John Boehner insists that passing such a short-term fix will create uncertainty for the economy. It would also potentially give President Obama another two months to hammer the GOP over the tax break. But it may be too late for a new deal: The Senate has already shut down for the holidays, and its Democratic leaders say they don't intend to come back to Washington to negotiate. They consider the Senate bill a bipartisan compromise — it passed 89-10. Will the House GOP really let the tax cut die?
Of course. These radicals are experienced hostage-takers: The two parties have already negotiated on this, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. "House Republicans said they'd demand an expedited Keystone decision" — referring to the controversial oil pipeline that President Obama has avoided ruling on — "and Senate Republicans successfully negotiated that into the deal." But now it turns out that's not enough for the "radicalized House GOP caucus." They don't want a middle-class tax cut anyway, so they'll hold it hostage and, if necessary, let it die if they don't get even more "right-wing goodies."
"Republicans may yet kill middle-class tax cut"
If it dies, blame Democrats: The Senate knew that Boehner and his troops didn't want a temporary fix, says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. Still, Senate Democrats passed their bill and skipped town. It will be their fault if House Republicans block it. But don't freak out yet: I bet we'll "see an 11th hour deal again" so taxpayers don't get "socked with a tax increase the first of the year."
"House GOP not on board Senate payroll tax bill"
But really, they should let it die: The two-month extension was a huge mistake, says Rob Port at Say Anything. "A temporary tax cut will engender uncertainty in labor markets that will outweigh any beneficial impact from lessened tax burdens." Besides, Medicare and Social Security already "represent terrible obligations the nation simply doesn't have enough funds to cover." Bleeding money from them by keeping the payroll tax at 4.2 percent, instead of 6.2 percent, "only exacerbates the problem."
"The payroll tax extension was a mistake"
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