Just how badly has the G.O.P. lost on the payroll tax break issue? Bad enough to lose the Wall Street Journal editorial page opinion like this:
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
That’s pretty damn bad.
And if that’s one outcome of yesterday’s House Republican fiasco, today’s theater should sting at least as much.
In trying to complete a quick pro forma session of the House today, Speaker Pro Tempore Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) walked away while Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) implored the House to take up the bill that would extend the tax break (via ThinkProgress):
Hoyer got a few good slams in on the Republicans before turning the microphone over to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Van Hollen never got a chance. His microphone was cut off, and a few seconds later, the video feed was terminated.
But the issue isn’t just about how Scrooge-like the Republicans have become for the holiday season. The other side of this story is about the collapse of Republican discipline. Speaker Boehner had a revolt among the House masses that forced him to beg-off an agreement he made with the Senate leadership and, in particular, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (via Politico):
While the two men have been remarkably united this year, the year-end package has prompted an unusual amount of confusion, disunity, frustration and increased finger-pointing, both publicly and privately, between House Republicans and Senate Republicans over who is at fault in the political fiasco.
“This is a colossal fumble by the House Republicans,” said a senior Senate GOP aide, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about his own party. “Their inability to recognize a win is costing our party our long-held advantage on the key issue of tax relief. It’s time for Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor to look these rookies in the eye and explain how the game is won or lost.”
For most of the past year, the House Teabaggers have been less of a liability than I figured they would be. But with reelection campaigns on the horizon and a distinct lack of positive accomplishments to their credit, the House Teabaggers are feeling unsettled and maybe even nervous.
Boehner will have increasing difficulty keeping the feral hordes from further trashing the Party.