Why Can’t Republicans Win?

The House gave in today, and went along with the Senate’s two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday. The Associated Press assures us this is “a clear win for Obama.” Many people seem to think that House Republicans were trying to raise the payroll tax, but this isn’t true at all. On the contrary: the bill the House passed would have extended the payroll tax cut for twelve months, not two, like the Democratic Senate’s bill. Why didn’t people criticize Democrats for their measly two-month extension?

I have no idea why this was a political loser for the GOP. Given that a clear majority of voters want the payroll tax cut extended, one would think that the party that voted to extend it by twelve months rather than two would come out on top. But logic seems immaterial; no matter what the conflict is between Republicans and Democrats in Congress, it is consistently the Republicans who come out on the short end, politically. This is due in part, no doubt, to the press having its thumb on the scale for the Democrats. Many say it is also due to political ineptitude on the part of the Republican leadership, in this case, John Boehner. But why? If political gain was the objective, I don’t understand why it was dumb to vote to extend the payroll tax break by twelve months rather than two.

No doubt I am missing something here. If you understand what just happened, please explain in the comments.

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