UPDATE #3: The Colorado Independent’s David O. Williams:
Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall this afternoon said he hopes a pending deal between House Republicans and Senate leaders to end a payroll tax-cut stalemate signals a new willingness for both parties to work together after the holidays.
“I’m grateful that cooler heads have prevailed and that my House colleagues have ended their political brinksmanship over the extension of the payroll tax cut,” said Udall, a Democrat. “This will come as a big relief for Colorado families who were facing a tax hike starting in just a few days.”
Following the lead of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Republican House leaders caved in to growing pressure and reportedly agreed to a two-month extension of lower payroll tax rates as well as unemployment benefits and Medicare reimbursements.
“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,” McConnell said a prepared statement this afternoon…
At new heights of incoherence trying to reconcile the House GOP’s position with “The Pledge.”
Listening to the ordinarily silver-tongued Grover Norquist, president of Americans For Tax Reform and high priest of the anti-tax movement, try to spit out some justification for the House GOP’s Masada-like stance against extending the payroll tax cut is like listening to Porky Pig sing “Blue Christmas.” He’ll gloat that the Democrats had to back off their millionaire surtax to pay for the payroll tax cut extension. He’ll chide Obama for trying to postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline. But he won’t say that the House Republicans, in rejecting the Senate compromise, have voted to raise payroll taxes. [Pols emphasis] “It would be a higher tax than it was last year for one year,” he allowed in a Dec. 20 radio interview, sounding remarkably like Bill Clinton quibbling about the definition of “is.” But “it’s not a violation of The Pledge not to extend a one-year tax holiday.”
Grudgingly, Norquist opined, “I think it’s a good idea to extend it largely because the Democrats will demagogue it if one doesn’t, so let’s do it and let’s move on.”
Understand what Grover Norquist is saying. The nation’s alleged foremost enemy of higher taxes is worried that the Democrats might “demagogue” higher taxes…on 160 million Americans. And this is why he “grudgingly” says the House should approve the compromise that prevents higher taxes on 160 million middle and working-class Americans. But it’s okay, if taxes do go up on 160 million Americans next year, that somehow doesn’t violate “The Pledge” not to raise taxes!
We’re not sure that the public is ready to understand the full implications of what he is saying, and what it reveals about who Grover Norquist and his Pledge signers are actually fighting for.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, urged House Republicans to support a short-term extension of the expiring payroll tax cut — similar to a two-month bipartisan measure passed overwhelmingly by the Senate and now demanded by both President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats.
In return, McConnell pushed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, to appoint conferees to a House-Senate conference committee to iron out differences between competing plans — something requested by House Republicans…
But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, pushed back, having his office release a statement reiterating his call for negotiators to craft an immediate one-year tax cut extension — something considered unlikely by most congressional observers.
…The latest maneuvering occurred against the backdrop of mounting pressure across the political spectrum for House Republicans to drop their opposition to the Senate’s bipartisan agreement on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut — an issue many in the GOP fear is damaging the party’s anti-tax reputation heading into the 2012 campaign. [Pols emphasis]
As CBS News reports, even Karl Rove is now begging House Republicans to give it up:
Republicans “have lost the optics on it,” Rove told Fox News, “the question now is how do the Republicans get out of it.”
Speaker John Boehner and House Republicans on Tuesday blocked a Senate proposal to extend the popular tax cut for two months in an effort to allow lawmaker from both parties more time to hash out a larger compromise on a host of issues that were holding up the payroll tax extension…
The mastermind of Mr. Bush’s 2004 re-election effort said the only thing Republicans can do now is “use it for political theater and then vote the two month extension and get out of town.”
It’s been lost in the debate over the last few days over the two-month extension of the payroll tax cut, but the principal sticking point in the full one-year extension that all parties claim to want is how to pay for it. A Democratic proposal for a “millionaire surtax” to cover the costs was jettisoned about a week ago in the Senate to help produce the two-month compromise. This proposal forced the unwanted choice on the GOP of raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, or everybody else, so it’s understandable that they had severe problems responding to it. Today, House Republicans are arguing a case that they can’t fully articulate because the optics are a nightmare for them–and their front is collapsing on their strongest issue as a result.