A political consultant who taught me lots about the workings of the lawmaking process when I was new to retail politics told me that politics is in the end all theater. Rarely has his analysis seemed as accurate as watching the House Republicans today try to justify holding American citizens in a state of suspended animation, wondering what’s going to happen to their paychecks next year or whether their unemployment check will continue to come. One aim of the Republicans is to get voters to hate government, and that seems to be the one thing they are succeeding at. So I found Politico’s question today a little facile, but I answered it anyway. I’d love to know what you think , please.
Arena Asks: House Speaker John Boehner has predicted that the House will reject the Senate-passed payroll tax holiday bill during a vote today. The two-month package would extend rates on the payroll taxes that fund Social Security, unemployment benefits and Medicare by increasing certain home-mortgage fees.
If paychecks go down in January 2012, who will they blame: House Republicans, Senate Democrats, Congress in general or President Obama?
It’s clear that the Republicans orchestrated all of this. Why is there even a question?
You can argue for or against any of the various provisions in the bill, but the political theater we are witnessing is purely being staged so the Republicans can tell the Tea Party and corporate “person” funders that they went to the mat even if it means destroying what’s left of the middle class economy they’ve already squeezed dry.
The Republicans wouldn’t be able to get away with this behavior if President Obama had led the public debate more proactively. He and the Democrats would be in a vastly stronger position if they talked more about American ideals than they do about making deals. But in the end the Republicans must bear the responsibility for their own recalcitrance. That’s what’s grinding to a halt the wheels of lawmaking.