December 22, 2011 | The party that can't say "Yes" just said "Uncle!" The House Repugnicans, led by Speaker John Boehner, gave up their intransigence over the 2-month extension of the payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits, and with good reason:
The Wall Street Journal, bastion of staunch conservatism and Rupert Murdoch's claim to respectability, scathingly condemned Boehner and the House Republicans, pronouncing that they had lost the tax issue to Obama and wondering if "they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest" (WSJ Online, 22-Dec-2011).
Senate Republicans — Republicans! — blasted the House Republicans for refusing to even bring the Senate bill to a vote. Scott Brown (R-MA), elected with Tea Party backing, blasted them on two consecutive days, calling them "irresponsible." Other Republican Senators up for re-election in 2012 did the same.
John McCain (R-AZ) hit the network and cable shows to warn that the House was harming the Republican Party and he was not amused. (It took him this long to figure out that this crop of elected Republicans were giving Republicans a bad name?!?) This, after John McCain foisted the half-governor of Alaska on us as a legitimate candidate for vice-president, is another example of the pot calling the kettle black
President Obama, for once, did not blink and spoke sternly from the podium in the White House briefing room: "The clock is ticking; time is running out. And if the House Republicans refuse to vote for the Senate bill, or even allow it to come up for a vote, taxes will go up in 11 days. I saw today that one of the House Republicans referred to what they’re doing as, “high-stakes poker.” He’s right about the stakes, but this is not poker, this is not a game -- this shouldn’t be politics as usual" (WhiteHouse.gov).
Obama drove his point home in another press briefing today: "This is it; this is exactly why people get so frustrated with Washington. This isn’t a typical Democratic-versus-Republican issue. This is an issue where an overwhelming number of people in both parties agree. How can we not get that done? I mean, has this place become so dysfunctional that even when people agree to things we can't do it? (Applause.) It doesn’t make any sense." (WhiteHouse.gov)
160 million working Americans facing a bigger tax bite out of their paychecks and 2.5 million Americans looking for a job, many of them unemployed more than 6 months and in danger of losing their unemployment benefits, gave their senators and representatives home for the holidays a piece of their mind.
Mitch McConnell, Republican Leader of the Senate, gave his "good friend" John Boehner absolutely no cover, saying “Working Americans have suffered enough from the President’s failed economic policies and shouldn’t face the uncertainty of a New Year’s Day tax hike. Leader Reid should appoint conferees on the long-term bill and the House should pass an extension that locks in the thousands of Keystone XL pipeline jobs, prevents any disruption in the payroll tax holiday or other expiring provisions, and allows Congress to work on a solution for the longer extensions” (WashingtonPost, 22-Dec-2011). Ouch!
This whole fiasco (The Wall Street Journal's word) shows unequivocally that the Tea Party tail has been wagging the Republican dog. John Boehner was pushed to the edge of the cliff by the hot-heads, forcing him to recant the support he gave for the Senate bill just 24 hours earlier. The "Leader" is a leader in name only. He and his caucus calculated that if they just threw another tantrum they could get their way, but it didn't work that way. The Senate rarely ever passes anything by a vote of 89 to 10, and when they do they resent the House raining on their parade. With the Senate and President Obama on the same side, the House had backed themselves into a corner from which the only exit was to cave. So much for the Braveheart caucus! Actually, Braveheart and the House hot-heads did suffer the same fate, although not quite so bloody, literally.