December 20, 2011 3:50 pm ET - by Kate Conway
A few hours ago, the House voted to reject the Senate's bipartisan two-month payroll tax cut extension and instead opt to go to conference to resolve the differences between the Senate proposal and the House's yearlong extension package. Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), flanked by House Republicans, gave a press conference afterward in which he explained the House's actions and called on President Obama to pressure Senate Democrats, who have recessed for the year, to return to Washington.
When Boehner opened up the floor to questions, the first reporter to speak up pointed out that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has declared he won't call his chamber back into session. But Bohener declined to address reality, preferring to pretend the House's behavior has been a reasonable approach to legislative progress. "We have done our job. ... There's no reason we can't do this," he declared.
Q: Senate Democrats say that they are not coming back, so does this mean that the tax cuts are going to lapse?
BOEHNER: We have done our job. All we need now is to resolve our differences. A two-month extension is nothing more than kicking the can down the road. The president has asked us to do this for a full year. We did it for a full year. We offset the cost with reasonable offsets. There's no reason we can't do this.
Indeed: There is no good reason that Democrats and Republicans shouldn't have been able to reach a compromise, given that most reasonable members of Congress agreed on the common objective of a yearlong extension. But the House GOP, such fervent tax-cutters on just about every other front, inexplicably dug in their heels against a simple extension, attaching to the House version a number of unnecessary and unviable riders. The Senate didn't arbitrarily decide on a two-month extension. They decided — by a vote of 89 to 10, with 39 of the Senate's 47 Republicans in favor — that an admittedly imperfect two-month compromise was the best they could hope for after the House sent them a proposal that would have undermined the Affordable Care Act, cut the length of jobless benefits, and tampered with the EPA.
Now that the House GOP's political games have pushed yet another high-priority economic initiative right up to the deadline, Boehner is pretending he and his party have been reasonable actors. But history — and the facts — say otherwise.
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