Friday, December 23, 2011

House GOP Caves

It was only a matter of time.

Under a deal reached between House and Senate leaders, the House will now approve as early as Friday the two-month extension of a payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits approved by the Senate last Saturday, and the Senate will appoint members of a House-Senate conference committee to negotiate legislation to extend both benefits through 2012.

House Republicans — who rejected an almost identical deal on Tuesday — collapsed under the political rubble that has accumulated over the week, much of it from their own party, worried that the blockade would do serious damage to their appeal to voters.

The House speaker, John A. Boehner, determined to put the issue behind his party, announced the decision over the phone to members on Thursday, and did not permit the usual back and forth that is common on such calls, enraging many of them.

After his conversation with lawmakers, the speaker conceded to reporters that it might not have been “politically the smartest thing in the world” for House Republicans to put themselves between a tax cut and the 160 million American workers who would benefit from it, and to allow President Obama and Congressional Democrats to seize the momentum on the issue.

I doubt that the Republicans will learn anything from this. In fact, the next time it’s going to make the teabaggers even more intransigent, especially now that they see that John Boehner can be rolled. If I were him, I’d keep an eye on Eric Cantor; there’s a touch of Brutus going on there.

The punditocracy will declare that this is good news for Mitt Romney and actually bad for the Democrats, and we’ll be back to the same old bullshit as soon as the new year begins, but for the moment, let’s enjoy the fact that 160 million people aren’t going to get a nasty surprise with their first paycheck next month.