Why John Boehner can still win the tax-cut showdown
House Speaker John Boehner stunned Senate Democrats and Republicans when he said the House would vote down their two-month deal on the payroll tax cut and other measures.
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“I’ve been here long enough to say that it has never been the case that the Senate votes at 90 percent, with overwhelming majorities from both parties, without communication with their counterparts in the House,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney at a White House briefing with reporters on Monday.Skip to next paragraph
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The White House has not reached out to Boehner to help resolve the standoff, he added. “It is not our job to negotiate between him and Senate Republicans,” he said.
Anticipating Monday night’s House vote, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said earlier in the day that the Senate will not return to Washington to renew negotiations. The point of a two-month bill was to give negotiators time to settle these issues in a new year.
“My House colleagues should be clear on what their vote means today,” he said in a statement.
“If Republicans vote down the bipartisan compromise negotiated by Republican and Democratic leaders, and passed by 89 senators including 39 Republicans, their intransigence will mean that in 10 days, 160 million middle-class Americans will see a tax increase, over 2 million Americans will begin losing their unemployment benefits, and millions of senior citizens on Medicare could find it harder to receive treatment from physicians,” he added.
A version of the bill that the House passed on Friday extends the Social Security payroll tax cut for a year, saving the average taxpayer about $1,000.
The House bill also extends – and, over time, rolls back – expiring federal benefits for jobless workers and gives physicians treating Medicare patients a two-year reprieve from a mandated 27.4 percent cut in payments, also set to take effect on Jan. 1.
After failing to come to terms on how to pay for these expiring provisions, especially the $120 billion needed to make up for a shortfall in Social Security Trust Fund, the Senate opted to extend expiring provisions for two months and revisit the issue in February.
“But to come back now and create another showdown, especially after this overwhelming vote in the Senate, makes clear that it’s the fault of House Republicans that people will have less in their pockets after Jan. 1 and put the economy at risk,” says Norman Ornstein, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
“For Republicans, it’s a suicidal impulse,” he adds. “For Congress, it’s just another sign of deep dysfunction.”
But House Republicans say they have an advantage heading in to the endgame.
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