There are more signs that President Obama is winning the public relations battle with House Republicans over their opposition to a two-month extension of the current payroll tax cut.
Obama is keeping up the pressure. He is scheduled to meet today with Americans who would lose income--an estimated $40 every two weeks or $1,000 annually for a family earning $50,000 a year--if the tax cut is not extended. He will listen to their stories about what the loss of money would mean to them, and use the occasion to pitch the two-month extension. He hopes this would give Congress enough time to negotiate a way to continue the tax cut for a full year.
Democratic strategists say the news media have played a key role in strengthening Obama's hand because they have been much more positive toward the president's position than toward that of the House Republicans.
The New York Times, for example, reports today that "Obama seemed to regain his political footing this week with the help of House Republicans, whose handling of a standoff over payroll taxes had even leading conservatives attacking them for bungling the politically charged issue."
The Washington Post offers a similar assessment today, and the Wall Street Journal said yesterday in an editorial that the Republicans "thoroughly botched the politics" of the issue and that the GOP's resistance "might end up re-electing the president."
Some Republican legislators in the Senate, which accepted the two-month extension, also piled on. Sen. John McCain of Arizona said the payroll-tax battle was "harming the Republican Party." He told CNN, "We've got to get this thing resolved."
House Republicans want to continue the tax cut for a year, not just two months, and disagree with the Democrats on how to pay for it. But their explanations don't seem to be getting through. Their approval rating among voters has sunk to 20 percent or less in various polls.