On Wednesday — just hours after GOP leaders and President Obama vowed to collaborate — Republicans threatened to block all legislation until Democrats agree to a deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. The "blunt threat" was delivered in a letter signed by all 42 Senate Republicans, who insist that the Bush tax cuts be extended across the board while Democrats want to end them for the rich. Is this obstructionism on steroids, or simply an attempt to get Democrats to respect the message of the midterm elections? (Watch a Fox News discussion about the GOP strategy)
The GOP is holding hostage the public good: The Republicans' "hostage letter" made their intentions clear, says Steve Benen at Washington Monthly. They were "all smiles" when they had their little talk with Obama this week, but now they're saying "screw bipartisanship." They're willing to block everything from the nuclear START treaty to funding U.S. troops until they get their way on taxes. Despicable.
"All 42 Senate Republicans announce hostage plan"
Republicans are just setting priorities: The main issues before the lame-duck Congress are providing money to keep the government running and deciding whether to extend the Bush tax cuts, says Peter Roff at U.S. News & World Report. Democrats are dithering, so it's up to the GOP to get things done. The electorate doesn't want job-killing tax hikes in this economy, so Republicans are right to hold the line.
"Senate Republicans hold firm against Obama tax hikes"
The logjam could clear quickly: Don't worry, says Chris Good at The Atlantic, this "may not be as much of a drag on legislative action as it sounds." It's a bargaining ploy. If Democrats want to extend unemployment benefits, repeal "Don't ask, don't tell," and approve START before the end of the year, "they're going to have to cut a deal."
"All about the tax cuts"