President Obama phoned Speaker John Boehner today and informed him that there will be no negotiations on a longer payroll tax cut extension until after he passes the Senate bill.
From the White House:
Today, the President made separate calls to Speaker Boehner and Leader Reid. In his call to Speaker Boehner, the President reiterated the need and his commitment to work with Congress to extend the payroll tax cut for the entire year, and the fact that the short-term bipartisan compromise passed by almost the entire Senate is the only option to ensure that middle class families aren’t hit with a tax hike in 10 days and gives both sides the time needed to work out a full year solution. The President urged the Speaker to take up the bipartisan compromise passed in the Senate with overwhelming Democratic and Republican support that would prevent 160 million working Americans from being hit with a holiday tax hike on January 1st.
The President also spoke with Leader Reid and again applauded him for the work he conducted with Minority Leader McConnell to achieve a successful bipartisan compromise that passed overwhelmingly in the Senate on Saturday, and Senator Reid reaffirmed his commitment to secure a bipartisan year long tax cut after the House passes the two month extension. The President urged the Speaker to allow a vote on the one compromise that Democrats and Republicans passed together to give the American people the assurance they need during this holiday season that they won’t see a significant tax hike in just 10 days.
Obama made it clear to Boehner and the tea party that the Senate is not coming back, there will be no negotiations, and there won’t be a longer extension until the House passes the Senate bill. When Boehner wouldn’t allow the Senate bill to come to the floor for an up or down vote, he made it clear to everyone that he thinks he would lose an up or down vote. The House doesn’t have the votes needed to reject the Senate bill. Odds are that if it were voted on, the House would pass the two month extension.
The tea party has taken another hostage, but it isn’t Obama or the U.S. Senate. The hostage this time is the Republican Party. The mentality of the tea party caucus was best expressed by Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) when he said on Fox News, “This is a ‘Braveheart’ moment. You, Mr. Speaker, are our William Wallace.”
What the tea party is doing to the Republican Party is less Braveheart and more kamikaze. Since the Senate left town, the House’s usual hostage taking tactics are not going to work this time. Obama is not going to make the Senate return to Washington. Reid is not going to appoint conferees. No one is going to help Boehner out of the mess that he created this time.
Boehner created a crisis within his own party, and he is going to have to find his own way out of it. The Republican Party is panicking because they see their 2012 election hopes vanishing right before their very eyes. The House tea party Republicans are in the process of both getting Obama reelected and giving the Democrats control of the House.
John Boehner only has two options. He can allow an up or down vote on the Senate bill or he can raise taxes on 160 million Americans.
The choice is his, but either way Obama has already won.