The President took to the bully pulpit again this morning to deliver his demands that the House Republicans compromise by surrendering to Harry Reid and approving the temporary 2 month extension to the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction extension that the President requested for 2012. They are making hay of the $20 per week that the temporary tax reduction puts into each worker's paycheck - and blaming the House GOP for not approving the Senate Bill and insisting on their Bill being the one that needs to be addressed.
Despite all of this, the House GOP, behind Speaker John Boehner, was prepared to continue to make their stand and argument on the merits of their bill - which not only fulfilled the President's request for a full 12 month extension of the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction, but also extended jobless benefits, blocked Obamacare mandated Medicare reimbursement cuts to doctors and hospitals, required the President to make a decision within 60 days on the Keystone XL pipeline extension project. In addition, the House Bill also was deficit neutral as the costs associated with these programs were offset by spending reductions elsewhere in the fiscal budget.
This last item was the one of the primary reasons why the House bill was handled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as 'dead on arrival' in the Senate. The preferred process by the Senate Democrats and the President to address the budget deficit caused, primarily by the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction, by passing a permanent tax increase on the 'wealthy' - part of the Democrat agenda of class warfare and 'taxing the rich'. The Administration and Congressional Democrats also have demonstrated their focus towards opposing any and all efforts to reduce not only the size of the government, but also to reduce the massive deficit spending levels enacted by the Administration and Congress.
As the day started, we were in the deadlock between the House Republicans and the Senate Democrats / Administration. The House insisted on their bill should be acted on, while the Senate Democrats and Administration wanted their bill to be the one acted on. Neither side was willing to blink - with the Senate Democrats going so far as to refuse to appoint representatives from the Senate to serve on a conference committee to negotiate a real compromise between the bills. The argument now was a purely political one - between the conservative approach towards fiscal responsibility and the progressive approach of tax and spend.
Then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to cut the legs out from under the House GOP's stand. This morning, McConnell made the request for the House GOP to vote on the Senate's bill - with the 2 month temporary extension of the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction. At this point, the House position became completely untenable. All of the reasons and rationale for holding for the House bill were eliminated by McConnell's unwillingness to continue to fight the battle. McConnell not only surrendered, but he also greatly weakened the hand of the Republicans when it comes time to have to negotiate with the Administration and Senate Democrats in late January and February for extending the 2 month temporary extension.
Because of McConnell's lack of backbone and will, the House GOP has had to capitulate and agree to vote on the Senate bill. In return, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has agreed to appoint conferees from the Senate after the New Year to a committee to resolve the differences between the Senate and House bills. It is unlikely that this resolution of the differences will achieve the deficit neutral approach of the House bill.
McConnell's self-serving betrayal will also make it far more difficult for Congressional Republicans to make any major inroads to achieve meaningful spending reductions, hold the Senate Democrats accountable for passing a legitimate Federal budget, and push back against tax increases that the Administration and Senate Democrats will demand. It also demonstrates the lack of unity inside the GOP, and a level of contempt towards the Tea Party and its influence in Congress.
The President and Senate Democrats now have the confirmation they need to know that the Senate Minority Leader will make decisions based on how he perceives the media is or will treat those decisions. It will be immaterial if the perception matches reality - they now know that rather than making a principled stand and seeing it through, McConnell will demand the Congressional GOP to fold when in a stand down with the Administration or Senate Democrats.
McConnell should immediately resign his leadership position. If he is unwilling to resign, he should be replaced as the leader of the Senate Republicans. That's what should happen. Instead, the House GOP leadership is going to take the fall for McConnell's cowardice...and the American people find themselves getting screwed, yet again, by both parties. T
This entire event should mobilize the Tea Party, not only against Reid and Obama, but against McConnell and the other's in GOP leadership positions who hold the Tea Party and its values in contempt.
UPDATE - Will this action by McConnell to force the folding of the House GOP (and Tea Party Republicans in the House) now embolden Barack Obama to kill the Keystone XL pipeline extension?
Why wouldn't it? The President already is predisposed to reject the expansion of the pipeline for political / environmental purposes. It doesn't worry him one whit that it pisses off an ally, costs jobs, or raises prices for the American consumer - it supports 'Fundamental Change'.