Monday, December 26, 2011

Catching Up

In case you missed it among all the festivities, the House and Senate did pass the payroll tax cut extension late last week, and the few remaining people in Washington who had other plans for the holidays were able to get on the last plane and head home.

Just about everyone agrees that this fight was a huge victory for President Obama. For one thing, he finally got the GOP to cave on something, which is no small feat, seeing as how he has been his own worst enemy when it comes to standing up to the them. But there’s also the added bonus of drawing attention to a tax cut that a lot of American workers didn’t know they were already getting.

Surely, during one of the most severe economic downturns in our nation’s history, Americans of all stripes fastidiously check their paystubs to calculate exactly how much withholding the local, state and federal governments are taking. What’s that? You don’t? You didn’t know that payroll taxes have been reduced by two percent since the beginning of last year?

Well you do now. And that’s the big bonus to the Obama victory on the payroll tax cut, a previously lesser known component of the 2010 deal on the Bush tax cut extension. The very public fight over the legislation has been won by Democrats eyeing traction in 2012, igniting media interest in the policy and subsequent image of the House GOP with political egg on their face.

One of the things that drives me crazy about President Obama and the Democrats is that they routinely fail to drive home their own accomplishments. They let the Mighty Wurlitzer of Fox News and the orcosphere carry on with lies about “massive tax hikes” and “death panels” and the “failed healthcare law” when the reality is that tax rates went down under the first stimulus plan and again with the extension of the Bush tax cuts a year ago. The healthcare law is already touching millions of lives, including kids being carried on their parents’ insurance and the doughnut hole being closed for seniors on Medicare. But it’s really hard to hear about those successes and accomplishments over the roar of the whackos, especially when the president himself doesn’t raise his voice.

I’ve been saying for a long time that the Republicans can’t be taken seriously when it comes to dealing with serious issues. The best thing that can come out of the fight over the payroll tax extension is that voters are seeing that too.