Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Smartest Republican of the Day: Scott Brown

Fighting for reelection in deep-blue Massachusetts, GOP Sen. Scott Brown ripped into House Republicans on Tuesday after Speaker John Boehner vowed that his caucus would reject the short-term payroll tax cut extension that nearly 90 percent of senators voted for over the weekend.

"The House Republicans' plan to scuttle the deal to help middle-class families is irresponsible and wrong," Brown said in a statement.

Well, he's right. And I'm sure political self-preservation has nothing to do with it.

A vulnerable freshman, Brown has been running to his left as he prepares for a tough challenge next year from Elizabeth Warren, the presumptive Democratic nominee. While Brown lauded House GOP efforts to secure a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut, he said the two-month Senate compromise would avoid tax hikes for millions of Americans at year's end, when the tax cut expires.

"The refusal to compromise now threatens to increase taxes on hard-working Americans and stop unemployment benefits for those out of work," Brown said. "During this time of divided government, both parties need to be reasonable and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We cannot allow rigid partisan ideology and unwillingness to compromise stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people."

Hey, give him some (but not much) credit, he's smart enough to know what works in Massachusetts -- and throughout much of the rest of the country. Which is to say, he's smart enough to know that being a Republican is toxic, with so many of his fellow Republicans looking completely insane, particularly when the Democrats stand firm on a popular issue and back the GOP into a corner.

(But will the White House cave once again?)

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  • If extending the payroll tax is such a great idea, how come you guys only did it for 2 months, and the GOP did it for a year? If it's a good idea, and one group does it longer and better, you think you'd like that group better than the other- but you don't. At some point, your cognitive dissonance is amusing. It's too bad you vote.

    By Blogger A Conservative Teacher, at 9:03 AM  

  • Alas, you just don't get it, do you? This isn't about a two-month extension or a one-year extension, and Republicans aren't serious about the latter anyway. If they were serious about a one-year extension, they wouldn't attach completely unacceptable offsets to it -- meaning, they don't actually want it to pass. They're more than happy to slash taxes on the wealthy, given that they're the party of plutocracy, but when it comes to tax cuts for everyone else, they have to be paid for by cutting programs that benefit everyone else. (Enjoy your tax cut, say goodbye to Social Security.)


    Republican opposition to extending the payroll tax is, in part, an expression of this same belief that the lower-earning half of the income distribution is getting a free ride – that the “takers” are exploiting the “makers,” to use Paul Ryan’s increasingly common catchphrase. This happens to be a wildly unpopular position, and Republicans are attempting to avoid having to defend it openly. (Being unpopular obviously isn't the same as being wrong, though I do disagree with the Republican position.)

    That’s why they are couching their opposition to extending the payroll tax in other, unrelated arguments. They are insisting that any extension be paid for, even though they made no such demand when it came to extending the Bush tax cuts. Now they are trying to tie the payroll tax together with the politically fraught issue of the Keystone pipeline. If you want something to pass, you keep it separate from other controversial voting issues. If you want to keep something from passing but you don’t want to openly oppose it, you maneuver to tie it together with other controversial issues that could sink it.

    The maneuvering over this in Congress reflects the desire by Republicans to stop the extension of the payroll tax cut without openly making that case. They will very likely capitulate in the end because party leaders recognize that “no tax cuts for people who aren’t job creators” is not a winning message. In the meantime, Republicans are clearly showing their anger, not just at the tax burdens placed upon the rich, but at the alleged lack of such a burden on everybody else.


    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 11:45 PM  

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