The pandering, boneheaded motives behind the payroll tax holiday

Temporarily lowering payroll taxes on American workers failed to stimulate the economy — and ending the holiday promises to invite major political blowback

Edward Morrissey

Now that the election has delivered a status-quo result, we head into the holiday season with the game of fiscal-cliff chicken well underway. Republicans claim that they have a mandate to keep tax rates as they are now because their party maintained control of the House; Democrats maintained control of the Senate and the White House, and thus claim a mandate for raising taxes. Both sides claim that they want to protect the middle class, and both sides have taken the middle-class tax rates hostage in demanding total victory.

The game of chicken threatens to play out all the way to the end of the holiday season, and perhaps even longer. Democrat Patty Murray, the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee, has said that raising tax rates is a higher priority for her panel than actually producing a budget, making the latter conditional on "get[ting] Republicans to quit protecting the wealthy." Murray now leads a contingent of Democrats pushing to force the U.S. over the fiscal cliff at the end of the year in order to use the political fallout to get tax hikes from Republicans.

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Edward Morrissey

Edward Morrissey has been writing about politics since 2003 in his blog, Captain's Quarters, and now writes for His columns have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Post, The New York Sun, the Washington Times, and other newspapers. Morrissey has a daily Internet talk show on politics and culture at Hot Air. Since 2004, Morrissey has had a weekend talk radio show in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and often fills in as a guest on Salem Radio Network's nationally-syndicated shows. He lives in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, and his two granddaughters. Morrissey's new book, GOING RED, will be published by Crown Forum on April 5, 2016.