Speaker of the House John Boehner flipped on the payroll tax cut deal and then flopped with the public because of his inability to control his own caucus. In other words, Congressman Boehner was for the payroll tax cut before he was against it. Americans want strong leadership but the speaker doesn't have any more backbone than Mitt Romney. And Mitt Romney doesn't even have a backbone. Does Boehner's flip mean that Mitt's failure to take a strong, consistent position on any important issue is infecting the GOP? Sounds about right to me.
Last week the speaker reportedly endorsed the Senate compromise to reduce payroll taxes but this week he's doing everything he can to kill it. Everybody is asking whether John Boehner lost control of the GOP caucus in the House of Representatives this week. The real question is whether he ever had any control. If the speaker had power, Congress could have solved the budget crisis months ago when the president and the speaker agreed to a $3 trillion package to reduce the deficit. When Boehner got back to his side of Pennsylvania Avenue, the Tea Party caucus told him to put his deal where the sun don't shine. House Republicans then settled for $1.2 trillion in debt reduction.
The House Republican flip flop on payroll taxes exposes the ugly secret of the Party of Tea. Republicans have never supported tax cuts; they only favor reductions for the 1 percent. The Party of Tea leaves no stone unturned to protect federal freebies and tax breaks for oil companies, hedge fund managers and corporate jet setters. But House Republicans would rather light themselves on fire than compromise to make sure that working families get some tax relief. And that's exactly what they did this week.
The president's 49 percent approval rating in the new ABC News/Washington Post national survey is nothing to write home about, but it looks damn good compared to the job rating for Congress. The president's approval rating is trending up while the rating for Congress is heading deeper into the toilet. How low can the GOP go? We will know next week when new national surveys will show the job rating for Congress is underwater like the mortgages of millions middle class Americans who need help now.
For once, I agree with the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal when it wrote Wednesday that House Republicans are doing everything they can to help Barack Obama get re-elected. This week, the Party of Tea formed the proverbial circular firing squad when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the party's last presidential candidate, John McCain, went on TV to denounce the inaction of House Republicans on tax cuts.
McConnell once said his "first task" as the Republican leader was to make sure Barack Obama doesn't get re-elected—not to fix the economy or to fight terrorism but to damage the president politically. If your big priority to damage the president, the only thing that will happen is that you will make it easier for the president to win a second term. The GOP opposition to tax cuts for working families is a clear indication that the Party of Tea puts politics over people. The GOP has supported payroll tax reductions before, but it now opposes them because the president favors them. Good luck selling that to voters next year.
How can the President and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid negotiate with a guy who doesn't have any power? The GOP should just dump the speaker and replace John Boehner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor now instead of waiting until next year. Maybe Cantor would have better luck explaining why his caucus is blocking tax cuts for 160 million Americans and unemployment benefits for 2 million more.
Or better yet, we can revise Newt Gingrich's idea and have U.S. Marshalls frog march John Boehner down Pennsylvania Ave to the White House so he can tell the president and the rest of us why he's so eager to cut taxes for bankers and billionaires and so reluctant to reduce taxes for working families.
- Check out the latest political cartoons.
- Weigh in: Is the GOP in Trouble After the House Payroll Tax Cut Debacle?
- Read Peter Fenn: John Boehner Is Letting the Inmates Run the Asylum.