By Robert Romano — One can fault House Republicans for many things, but opposing an extension of the payroll tax cut and another extension of unemployment benefits is not one of them.
Whether one agrees with the issue or not, the fact is, the House has already passed extensions of both of these items. At a cost of $180 billion, those extensions would last for the duration of calendar year 2012.
Yet, to read the headlines, and to listen to the White House’s talking points, House Republicans are intransigently opposed to the plan, and just want to stick it to the “middle class” on Christmas. How dare they!
“Obama Says Payroll Tax Cut Blocked by ‘Faction’ in House,” blared one headline. “House Republicans reject 2-month payroll tax cut,” declared another. “House rejects payroll tax cut, jobless benefits,” still another stated.
There’s only one problem. It’s just not true.
It’s a talking point. Not news. Not even remotely factual.
What is true is that the House and Senate have not yet agreed on the details of that legislation. While the House has passed a 12-month extension, the Senate has merely kicked the can down the road for 2 months.
Usually when that happens, as anyone who has passed a basic lesson on civics could tell you, there’s a conference committee, wherein the House and Senate will work out their differences. Heck, it’s even in the Constitution.
After all, the House is under no more obligation to pass the Senate version of the extension than the Senate is to pass the House version. Which is why the framers envisioned a conference committee.
And, that is exactly what the House has voted for.
By a vote of 229 to 193, the House voted in the affirmative on a “Motion to Go to Conference”. Not even on the Senate bill. It was declaring, in effect, that it has already voted on this piece of legislation, and that both houses now need to hash out their differences.
But that has not stopped Barack Obama, or his ever-faithful media allies, from trumpeting what amounts to a deliberate falsehood.
Leaving aside Obama’s campaign narrative, there are other reasons to consider the House’s position.
“The House is taking a stand. We believe all Americans deserve certainty. We want a yearlong extension of the payroll-tax cut,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, explaining his position.
Which, whether one agrees with extending the tax cut or not, is not unreasonable. Businesses have to prepare their accounting offices for whatever the new law is going to be. And a two-month patch just does not cut the mustard when it comes to tax law.
Really, the only reason for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his merry band of Senators have to remain on vacation is keep up the mirage of Obama’s dishonest talking point. For, if Senate negotiators were to return to Washington to engage in the conference committee and actually try to deal with the issue, Reid would be forced to admit the truth, that Republicans have actually passed legislation extending the payroll tax cut.
So, if come January, you’re looking for somebody to blame for why your taxes went up, you might look to Senators who preferred to pretend, with the help of the mainstream media, there was no such thing as a conference committee.
In the meantime, just go to conference, Harry. You’re the one who’s wasting time.
Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.