President Obama has signaled his intention to veto the House passed payroll tax extension unless taxes are raised on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
In a statement of policy, the White House said,
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 3630. With only days left before taxes go up for 160 million hardworking Americans, H.R. 3630 plays politics at the expense of middle-class families. H.R. 3630 breaks the bipartisan agreement on spending cuts that was reached just a few months ago and would inevitably lead to pressure to cut investments in areas like education and clean energy. Furthermore, H.R. 3630 seeks to put the burden of paying for the bill on working families, while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and to big corporations by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.
Instead of working together to find a balanced approach that will actually pass both Houses of the Congress, H.R. 3630 instead represents a choice to refight old political battles over health care and introduce ideological issues into what should be a simple debate about cutting taxes for the middle class.
This debate should not be about scoring political points. This debate should be about cutting taxes for the middle class.
After the House passed their version of the payroll tax extension, the White House put out a statement, “This is not a time for Washington Republicans to score political points against the President. It’s not a time to refight old ideological battles. And it’s not a time to break last summer’s bipartisan agreement and hurt the middle class by cutting things like education, clean energy, and veterans’ programs without asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share.”
The message from the White House is clear. President Obama is not going to sign the House bill. Obama doesn’t need to worry about the House bill because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already stated that the Republican bill is dead on arrival. The Hill reported Harry Reid’s comments to John Boehner in a Monday conversation, “I said there’s no need to send us something over here that can’t get Democratic votes and what you have now, what you have the rule on, isn’t going to pass over here.”
As has been the story with every major legislative event since Republicans took control of the House, we are right back where we started from. The difference between this Christmas standoff and last year’s is that Democrats seem to have learned their lesson. The President is not trying to compromise with House Republicans. He is taking a hard stand against them.
Obama and Reid have already signaled a willingness to keep Congress in session over the holidays until the payroll tax and unemployment benefits extensions are passed. With this bill today House Republicans tried the same strategy that they have used in each of these situations. They passed an unpopular bill that they hope Democrats will settle for as the pressure rises and the deadline looms.
Obama and the Democrats aren’t playing the game this time. They aren’t going to just let the Republicans have their way. If they want to go home for Christmas, they are going to have to pass a better bill that Democrats can support. The pressure is on them. If they want to go home for Christmas, they had best get to work.
Obama paid a heavy political price in terms of perception last Christmas. This year it is the president who is going to make sure that it is the Republicans who wake up with a lump of coal in their stockings.