Have Republicans Learned Their Lesson on Tax Cut Fights?
Weak resistance to latest extension of payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits signals GOP has learned from past.
Let me begin with a tired cliché: You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. That may not be the case for the Grand Old Party.
On Friday, America’s “do nothing” Congress passed a bill to extend a payroll tax cut for millions of workers and renewed aid to state unemployment benefit programs.
[ALSO READ: Newt "Chicken Little" Gingrich]
To be exact, the tax cut affects 160 million workers, while the jobless benefits help millions still looking for work. The measure will cost taxpayers $143 billion.
You'll rightly notice that this time you didn’t hear talk of a looming government shutdown. You didn’t see the partisan brinksmanship often present in party line disagreements. While no side will ever speak at length about it, lawmakers in Congress actually got something done. And they didn’t wait until the very last moment.
Some political analysts have suggested it has everything to do with a shift in the attitude of the Republican leadership. Aside from the polling that shows how unpopular Tea Party and far right Republican opposition to middle class tax cuts are, top GOP leaders are singing a different tune this time around.
From the Washington Post’s Jena McGregor:
Obama’s improving poll numbers may be playing a role. Or, the crop of new lawmakers ushered in during the last election could be starting to learn more about how the process works. Either way, as freshman Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) told Politico, “there are some things that are good battles for us to have, and some that aren’t the best for us.”
Truth is, this particular fight never was “the best” for Republicans. After Pres. Obama successfully created his “what does $40 mean to you” meme, Republican obstructionists looked more and more out-of-touch, particularly each time their leadership rejected the president’s and the Democratic party’s compromises.
Will this development usher in a the new era of cooperation between the two parties and its many factions? Not likely. It’s an election year. Both the President and his opponents will use any politically beneficial issue to swing voters their director this fall. On this issue, it's clear the right knows it not a winning bet to oppose tax relief during slow moving recovery.