House Republicans Swear They're Serious About Rejecting Bipartisan Payroll Tax Extension Deal

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 20 2011 8:27 AM

House Republicans Swear They're Serious About Rejecting Bipartisan Payroll Tax Extension Deal

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 19: Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) answers reporters' questions during a brief news conference after a House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol December 19, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If you want to know why congress's approval ratings keep hitting new lows, look no further than the latest wrangling over the payroll tax. Senate Republican leaders reached a deal over the weekend with the White House and Senate Democrats to do a two-month extension and then leave town, creating extra time to negotiate some of the longer-term issues. Then yesterday the House Republican leadership announced that it was going to double-cross its Seate counterparts and reject the deal. The Senate's line is that they're out of session now and there's nothing more to negotiate about. But the House leadership says it has the votes to kill the Senate deal today, pass a conservative alternative, and then set the stage for a conference committee.

This makes House Republicans look ridiculous, but as with their ridiculous behavior over the debt ceiling they may get results. The main issue here is that evidence suggests that anything that happens to ridiculous real personal disposable income next year will hurt the president's re-election chances. It doesn't matter what the source of the reduction is (falling nominal income, increasing taxes, higher gasoline prices) or whose fault the reduction is or what anyone can do about it. Voters hold the incumbent responsible for events, so if bad events happen the president will suffer. This combined with their willingness to undertake considerable public criticism and opprobrium has given House Republicans the upper hand in a series of high-stakes standoffs with the White House. What's more, the White House's willingness to compromise at various times has given them a credibility problem. Republicans have some theoretical and empirical backing for the view that if they hold firm, they can get a better deal at the last minute. But the key to this strategy is that you have to be willing to undertake a lot of public criticism and awkward situations. You have to not think too hard about that 11 percent approval rating and all the rest. So far, they're sticking to their guns.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.