Washington Post: Facing withering criticism from across the political spectrum and abandoned by Senate allies, House Republicans bowed to political reality Thursday and agreed to a two-month extension of a payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans.
The agreement represented a remarkable capitulation on the part of House Republicans, who had two days earlier rejected such a deal with Democrats as the kind of half-measure that their new majority was elected to thwart.
And it amounts to a Christmas gift for President Obama, who attempted to paint his Republican opponents as willing to raise taxes for millions of Americans. Such an image could have cost the party politically just as it is gearing up to try to take back the White House and the Senate in 2012.
Eugene Robinson: Finally. After a year of artful camouflage and concealment, Republicans let us glimpse the rift between establishment pragmatists and Tea Party ideologues. There may be hope for the republic after all.
…. There are only two possible reasons for House Republicans to behave the way they did. Maybe they are so blinded by ideology that they no longer care about the impact their actions might have on struggling American families. Or maybe their only guiding principle is that anything Obama supports, they oppose.
The week’s events offer a lesson for Obama, too. One reason for all the Republican angst was that public opinion has become more sensitive to issues of economic justice. This may be partly due to the Occupy protests. But I’m convinced that Obama’s fiery barnstorming in favor of his American Jobs Act has played a big role. People are hearing his message.
The president has been on the offensive. It’s no coincidence that, for the first time in quite a while, Republicans are backing up.
Steve Benen: …. the GOP leadership will, probably later today, bring the tweaked Senate agreement to the House floor, hoping to approve it by unanimous consent. If Republicans balk – and they might – Boehner will reconvene the House next week for an up-or-down vote. Since that vote would very likely pass the Senate bill, an objection today would only delay the inevitable, and extend this fiasco for a few more days.
…. perhaps one of the most striking realizations from this entire dispute is that Republicans gambled that Democrats would cave when the pressure was on – and Democrats didn’t. Arguably for the first time all year, Democrats from the White House to Capitol Hill knew they had the better hand, told Republicans that Dems wouldn’t fold this time, and sat back and watched and the GOP unraveled.
… After a year in which policymakers have moved from one hostage crisis to another, Democrats won a big one to close out the year, leaving Republicans looking awful and a weakened Speaker looking beaten.
For a party that earned a reputation for capitulating a little too often, it’ll start 2012 on the right foot.
Vice President Biden in the Des Moines Register: Mitt Romney recently laid out his plan for America. Reading about it, I thought of my dad. My dad was a hard worker. He took pride in what he did. And, like millions of Americans, that pride was put to the test when he found himself struggling to make ends meet.
When I was a child, he had to ask my grandfather to take care of my mom, my brother, sister and I while he moved away to find a better job in Wilmington, Del. My dad had a saying: “A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect.”….
Michael Tomasky (Daily Beast): Last week, I mentioned the racism charges against Ron Paul, involving the newsletter he used to publish and some of the vile and witless statements therein….
….These are not your run-of-the-mill euphemisms. These are blatantly racist comments by, I would hope, nearly any measure. Jews and gays get their moment in the sun ….The “Special Issue on Racial Terrorism,” produced after the Los Angeles riots, offers many gems, including this advice: “I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming.” …. It would seem, in the pages of something called the Ron Paul Political Report, that that “I” would represent, well, Ron Paul. But he denies authorship….
…. If he didn’t write those sentences, who did? Why not say? If he genuinely disagrees with the statements and truly disavows them, there could be no good reason not to name names.
… I humbly suggest that there are some matters on which there should not a statute of limitations …. Calling a group of people—identifiable only by their race “animals” belongs in that company. We lack proof that Paul did that, but at the very least we have proof that he has regarded this whole thing very casually….
Funny, the President said the same thing to John Boehner today:
President Barack Obama talks with Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, in the Oval Office, Dec. 22, 2011. Nabors informed President Obama that a bipartisan agreement was reached to extend the payroll tax cut. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
House Republicans caved to President Barack Obama’s demand for a two-month payroll tax cut extension, ending an impasse that threatened to raise taxes on 160 million Americans.
The capitulation came fast Thursday afternoon as House Republicans found themselves increasingly isolated in insisting that a full one-year extension was the only solution to the year-end crisis. The end of this debate will also come quickly – the House and Senate are expected to clear the legislation on a voice vote Friday morning.
“For the past several weeks, I’ve stated consistently that it was critical that Congress not go home without preventing a tax increase on 160 million working Americans. Today, I congratulate members of Congress for ending the partisan stalemate by reaching an agreement that meets that test.
“Because of this agreement, every working American will keep his or her tax cut – about $1,000 for the average family. That’s about $40 in every paycheck. Vital unemployment insurance will continue for millions of Americans who are looking for work. And when Congress returns, I urge them to keep working to reach an agreement that will extend this tax cut and unemployment insurance for all of 2012 without drama or delay.
“This is good news, just in time for the holidays. This is the right thing to do to strengthen our families, grow our economy, and create new jobs. This is real money that will make a real difference in people’s lives. And I want to thank every American who raised your voice to remind folks in this town what this debate was all about. It was about you. And today, your voices made all the difference.”
Now, get yourself to Hawaii Mr President:
President Barack Obama plays golf at the Kaneohe Klipper Marine Golf Course in Oahu, Hawaii, Dec. 26, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)