John Boehner says Republicans will vote against extending the payroll tax cut later today (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
If you listened to
his press conference
earlier today, it's clear that John Boehner wants people to believe that the only reason House Republicans are going to reject
the Senate's bipartisan extension of the payroll tax cut is that it's a temporary extension.
Instead of passing the House bill or another bill which extended the payroll tax cut for a year, the Senate Democrat leaders passed a two-month extension, punting the problem into next year. We opposed the Senate bill because doing a two-month extension instead of a full year causes uncertainty for job creators.
But that's total bull. First, the two-month extension was passed on a bipartisan basis—90% of the Senate voted for the bill, including the leadership of both parties. Second, and more importantly, House Republican objections have nothing to do with the temporary nature of the Senate deal. If House Republicans were willing to accept a full year extension without adding poison pills, this whole thing would be resolved. But they aren't—and that's what the problem is.
So while it's true that the House passed legislation extending the payroll tax cut for a year, that same legislation raised Medicare premiums for upper-income Americans and slashed unemployment benefits and other programs. Those are poison pills and they were added to the bill in order to sink it. The fact that the payroll tax extension was for a full year had nothing to do with it.
Those facts get in the way of the story Boehner is trying sell—that this is just a dispute over two months vs. a full year. Thus, when a reporter asked Speaker Boehner to explain if there was anything other than the length of the extension that needed to be resolved, Boehner refused to directly answer:
QUESTION: Besides the one year extension, what other changes do you want in the bill?
BOEHNER: We believe that we passed a reasonable bill that extended all of this for a year. If there are differences between the bodies, we ought to be able to resolve them.
Boehner knows damn well that there are differences other than the length of the extension. In fact, he knows damn well that those differences are the only differences that matter. And if he really wanted to extend the tax cut for a full year, he could get it done today by passing it without attaching poison pills. If he really wanted it passed into law, then he would quit holding it hostage.
The fact that Boehner is heading in the exact opposite direction tells you everything you need to know about who is to blame if taxes go up starting January 1 on American's working families.