The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board came down hard on House Republicans Wednesday for pandering on passing a payroll tax break that would extend cuts to 160 million American workers. The Journal is baffled regarding how Republicans are managing "to lose the tax issue to Obama," and the board claims that the GOP is becoming an unintentional ally for the Obama reelection campaign team:
"Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his Presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible."
A bipartisan package to extend the tax break for two months passed in the Senate 89-10 over the weekend, but was rejected by House Republicans Tuesday. Leaders in the House called for a longer plan rather than what they referred to as a two-month "band-aid."
The measure that passed in the Senate included a provision demanded by Republicans that pressures the White House into approving construction of a 1,700-mile Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline that promises thousands of jobs. The Senate plan would have provided a two-month extension of the two-percentage-point payroll tax holiday to 4.2% from 6.2%. After passing their bill, Senate members left Washington for the holidays.
The House prefers a separate plan passed by their chamber last week, that would have extended the payroll tax cut for one year, while cutting spending opposed by Democrats and tightening rules for jobless benefits.
The Journal editorial board suggests that the House GOP cut their losses, as they continue to bleed political capital the longer the public tiff with Democrats, and even with their fellow Republicans in the Senate, continues.
"The entire exercise is political, but Republicans have thoroughly botched the politics," reads the Journal. The editorial criticizes Republicans for adopting the president's language on the issue and failing to present a unified House and Senate strategy:
"If Republicans didn't want to extend the payroll tax cut on the merits, then they should have put together a strategy and the arguments for defeating it and explained why.
But if they knew they would eventually pass it, as most of them surely believed, then they had one of two choices. Either pass it quickly and at least take some political credit for it.
Or agree on a strategy to get something in return for passing it, which would mean focusing on a couple of popular policies that would put Mr. Obama and Democrats on the political spot. They finally did that last week by attaching a provision that requires Mr. Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days, and the President grumbled but has agreed to sign it.
But now Republicans are drowning out that victory in the sounds of their circular firing squad."
The editorial notes that high profile Democrats are all ready pounding the Republicans for internal strife and 'raising taxes on the middle class.' Read the entire article here.