The vote for the Senate payroll tax compromise today in both houses of Congress must be biggest political capitulation of the year for the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
How did that happen? It came about as a result of the Republican “kamikaze politics,” according to the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post today.
To continue the resistance to the bipartisan compromise in the Senate would have meant tax increases next year for 160 million Americans at an average of 1,000 dollars, an impossible political position of the “party of tax cuts,” in addition to 1.8 million unemployed no longer receiving unemployment benefits.
Clearly, the House Republicans overplayed their hand. How did they get here, many wondered, while watching with increasing alarm President Obama’s rising poll numbers. He and the Democrats have clearly benefited from the Republican “kamikaze politics,” and there is a new spring in their steps ahead of the coming election year.
The pressure on the House Republicans had steadily increased since their no to the Senate compromise earlier in the week and after their demands for renegotiations had met with firm refusals by President Obama and Senate Democratic majority. Crucial to the eventual capitulation, however, were the Wall Street Journal’s editorial on Wednesday about a Republican “tax fiasco” and Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell’s appeal yesterday to his Republican colleagues in the House to adopt the compromise.
Speaker John Boehner saw that the battle was lost and threw in the towel, although he tried to the end to make the best of the humiliating situation:
“This may not have been the politically smartest thing in the world, but I’m going to tell you what, I think our members waged a good fight.”
You’re not kidding – it might just have been the dumbest of all political strategies. And it was another nail in the coffin for Congress, which has had a really miserable year with a record low 11 percent of Americans approving of how it does its job. Chris Cillizza in the Washington Post names someone every week for having the worst week in Washington. It is always a fun read. Last Sunday, he named Congress as having the worst year in Washington of all.