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Obama Calls The House Republicans’ Bluff On The Payroll Tax Cut
President Obama blasted House Republicans for casting a vote that would raise taxes on the middle class, and shot down the GOP’s attempts to blame the Senate and the him for the potential tax hike.
Here is the video from MSNBC:
Obama obliterated the Republican talking point that they are working for a yearlong payroll tax cut,
Now, let’s be clear: Right now, the bipartisan compromise that was reached on Saturday is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1st. It’s the only one. All of the leaders in Congress — Democrats and Republicans — say they are committed to making sure we extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the entire year. And by the way, this is something I called for months ago.
The issue is, is that the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate worked on a one-year deal, made good progress, but determined that they needed more time to reach an agreement. And that’s why they passed an insurance policy — to make sure that taxes don’t go up on January 1st.
In fact, the House Republicans say they don’t dispute the need for a payroll tax cut. What they’re really trying to do, what they’re holding out for, is to wring concessions from Democrats on issues that have nothing to do with the payroll tax cut — issues where the parties fundamentally disagree. So a one-year deal is not the issue; we can and we will come to that agreement, as long as it’s focused on the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance and not focused on extraneous issues.
The issue right now is this: The clock is ticking; time is running out. And if the House Republicans refuse to vote for the Senate bill, or even allow it to come up for a vote, taxes will go up in 11 days. I saw today that one of the House Republicans referred to what they’re doing as, “high-stakes poker.” He’s right about the stakes, but this is not poker, this is not a game — this shouldn’t be politics as usual. Right now, the recovery is fragile, but it is moving in the right direction. Our failure to do this could have effects not just on families but on the economy as a whole. It’s not a game for the average family, who doesn’t have an extra 1,000 bucks to lose. It’s not a game for somebody who’s out there looking for work right now, and might lose his house if unemployment insurance doesn’t come through. It’s not a game for the millions of Americans who will take a hit when the entire economy grows more slowly because these proposals aren’t extended.
Later Obama made an interesting and not very subtle comparison between the behavior of House Republicans and those who serve in the armed forces,
I just got back from a ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, where we received the flag and the colors that our troops fought under in Iraq, and I met with some of the last men and women to return home from that war. And these Americans, and all Americans who serve, are the embodiment of courage and selflessness and patriotism, and when they fight together, and sometimes die together, they don’t know and they certainly don’t care who’s a Democrat and who’s a Republican and how somebody is doing in the polls and how this might play in the spin room. They work as a team, and they do their job. And they do it for something bigger than themselves.
The people in this town need to learn something from them. We have more important things to worry about than politics right now. We have more important things to worry about than saving face, or figuring out internal caucus politics. We have people who are counting on us to make their lives just a little bit easier, to build an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded. And we owe it to them to come together right now and do the right thing. That’s what the Senate did. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate said, we’re going to put our fights on other issues aside and go ahead and do what’s right on something we all agree to. Let’s go ahead and do it. We’ll have time later for the politics; we’ll have time later to have fights around a whole bunch of other issues. Right now, though, we know this is good for the economy — and they went ahead and did the right thing.
Obama’s subtle shot at the House Republicans’ patriotism should not be lost on anyone, but I am not sure that Republicans suffer from a lack of patriotism. It’s more like they can’t ever do the right thing unless they are bribed. For the House GOP every vote or decision is based on a calculation of what is in it for them.
Their insistence on hiding behind process is a disgrace to the Constitution and the men who wrote it. They are attempting to use the legislative process as a cover to increase taxes on the middle class. The proof is in the fact that they refused to vote on the tax cut itself. They don’t want to go on the record as opposing a tax cut, so they simply decided not to vote on the bill.
President Obama has made it very clear who is to blame if taxes go up in the middle class in less than two weeks. It won’t be the Senate. It won’t be the House Democrats, and it won’t be the president. The blame will all rest on the shoulders of the House Republicans. John Boehner’s leadership has been so lacking that he has allowed a band of tea partiers to hijack his entire caucus.
House Republicans still have a choice. They can introduce the Senate bill and allow it come up for a vote. If they insist on taxing on the middle class and then going on Christmas vacation, they had better batten down the hatches, because when taxes go up on 160 million Americans, when 2 million people lose their unemployment benefits, and when 48 million seniors may not be able to visit a doctor, they are going to know exactly who to blame.
If Republicans want to play poker, then Obama just called their bluff. The Senate isn’t coming back, so it is time for Boehner and Cantor to either show their cards or fold.