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.


Justice Ginsburg’s Crucial Dissent in the Texas Voter ID Case

The Jarring Experience of Watching White Americans Speak Frankly About Race

How Facebook’s New Feature Could Come in Handy During a Disaster

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

View From Chicago

You Should Be Able to Sell Your Kidney

Or at least trade it for something.

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Terrorism, Immigration, and Ebola Are Combining Into a Supercluster of Anxiety

The Legal Loophole That Allows Microsoft to Seize Assets and Shut Down Companies

  News & Politics
Oct. 19 2014 1:05 PM Dawn Patrol Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s critically important 5 a.m. wake-up call on voting rights.
Business Insider
Oct. 19 2014 11:40 AM Pot-Infused Halloween Candy Is a Worry in Colorado
Oct. 17 2014 5:26 PM Judge Begrudgingly Strikes Down Wyoming’s Gay Marriage Ban
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 17 2014 4:23 PM A Former FBI Agent On Why It’s So Hard to Prosecute Gamergate Trolls
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 8:32 AM Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy—and a Mess. Can the Movies Fix It?
Future Tense
Oct. 17 2014 6:05 PM There Is No Better Use For Drones Than Star Wars Reenactments
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 20 2014 7:00 AM Gallery: The Red Planet and the Comet
Sports Nut
Oct. 16 2014 2:03 PM Oh What a Relief It Is How the rise of the bullpen has changed baseball.