House Republicans postponed a planned Monday night vote on the Senate-passed payroll tax cut bill, bowing to pressure from rank-and-file lawmakers to fight the battle in a fresh media cycle, avoid a dark-of-night vote and, perhaps most important, find a way to reject the Senate bill without voting directly against a tax cut.
So now they are (or at least, they say they are) going to hold a vote which simultaneously defeats the Senate bill and requests a joint House-Senate conference. The only explanation for this legislative maneuvering is that Republicans are afraid that they would lose a separate vote on the bill itself—a loss being defined as two or three dozen Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with Democrats in favor of the Senate bill, resulting in the extension of the payroll tax cut.
But whatever their thinking is, the thing that is most clear of all is that if House Republicans wanted to extend the payroll tax cut ... then they would simply extend the payroll tax cut. Instead, they are jumping through countless hoops in order to make it seem as though they want a payroll tax cut. But until they pass a payroll tax cut without poison pills, the simple truth is that they are voting to raise taxes on 160 million Americans. It's really not that hard to figure out. And it's surprising that they believe they can convince the American public otherwise.