Payroll Tax Holiday and Government Shutdown

The payroll tax holiday extension and a bill to avoid a government shutdown are big news around the country, as partisanship appears to be crippling Washington yet again.  But, in what is becoming more and more commonplace, there is breaking news from the Associated Press that the two top leaders in the Senate may be nearing a deal.

Congressional Leaders

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Tuesday that extended the payroll tax holiday through next year, as well as extended unemployment benefits and a patch to the Medicare reimbursement rate for physicians (the “doc fix” provision that Congress has to do every year).  It was opposed by 14 Republicans and supported by 10 Democrats.

Democrats have derided the bill (and President Obama has promised to veto it, if passed) for two reasons: first, it doesn’t contain tax hikes on the rich to pay for the bill; and second, it contains a provision to fast-track the approval for the Keystone pipeline, which would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Republicans Vote “Yes” to Increasing Government Revenues!

Personally, I can’t believe that the Republicans in Washington would vote to increase government revenues, as proposed by this bill.  The Keystone pipeline would create 20,000 direct jobs and 179,000 American jobs by 2035, according to an estimate by the Canadian Energy Research Institute.  These jobs will create billions of dollars of government revenues.  Isn’t the Republican party supposed to be the “antigovernment party,” according to Bill Clinton?  Aren’t conservatives supposed to be against raising government revenues?  Those “small government conservatives in Washington” ought to be ashamed of themselves.  Creating more jobs??  Seriously!?  C’mon!

I understand the environmental objections to the oil pipeline.  Although there are not any significant physical environmental concerns regarding the Keystone pipeline (as environmental studies have been done for almost 3 years), there is a significant intellectual argument to be made for the overall environment.  The oil pipeline makes the consumption of oil by Americans easier.  Since the Left wants to decrease our oil consumption, because global warming’s greatest contributor is carbon from oil (of course), any effort to increase the supply of oil to Americans, even if it’s from allies like Canada, should be opposed.

The “Tax the Rich” Objection

While Democrats generally acknowledge that raising taxes in tough economic times is a bad thing, part of their 2012 election strategy is the mantra that “the rich should pay their fair share,” and includes a party plank of increasing taxes on the rich.

It appears that the Democrats have abandoned their call for a surtax on millionaires to pay for this particular bill, though.  Aides on the Democrat side said late on Wednesday that they were drafting a new proposal of the payroll tax holiday extension that would not include a millionaire surtax, which Republicans almost unanimously oppose.

A Government Shutdown?

How does this bill relate to a government shutdown?  Well, the Democratic Senate leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will not permit a vote on the spending bill to keep the government running until Republicans and Democrats come together and pass the payroll tax holiday bill.

The Republican House has already passed a payroll tax holiday and unemployment extension bill.  It filed a bill on Wednesday night that it might bring up and pass on Friday to fund the government, and then recess for the holidays, forcing the Senate and the president into a “take it or leave it” situation.

My bottom line:

  1. The Democrats and Republicans already have a compromise hammered out to avoid a government shutdown.  The only thing that’s holding up the passage of that bill is Sen. Harry Reid, who refuses to allow a vote in the Senate on that bill before the payroll tax cut bill.  They should pass this bill.
  2. The objections to the payroll tax holiday extension bill passed by the House are flimsy at best.  The Keystone pipeline creates jobs, is environmentally neutral, and increases government revenues.  The Democrats have already conceded that they weren’t really serious about the millionaire surtax.  Just pass the bill and go home for the holidays!

Questions: Why do you think Congress can’t get these bills passed?

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    First I have to note your reference Bill Clinton’s new book “Back to Work” in that you mention the “anti-government movement”. I see you have started reading it and your satirical comments made me laugh.  When you are done reading the book check out my two part review at http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/
     
    Now to your new post, real quickly you said there are “not any significant physical environmental concerns.” I am totally current because I work a 16 hours shift yesterday and then crash a slept for about 10 hours so I could be behind but there is a fresh water aquifer in the way of the projected oil pipe line which environmentalist have wanted the pipe line to be re-routed around to ensure its not affected.  That is easily done but it is a significant factor in the discussion.
     

    Could you explain to me the connection between the extension of the payroll tax holiday and the oil pipe line?  Beside the fact the Republicans have made it apart of the negotiations, is there a link between the two issues? The answer is NO, there is no legislative link between the proposed extension of the payroll tax holiday and the oil pipe line. Given that both sides have, IN GENERAL, accepted that this payroll tax holiday extension is “good” for Americans, why can’t this bill be passed more quickly?  That is a good question Bob, and the answer is actually a problem I have been thinking about for the last week or so.  I believe that this problem is at the core of the political gridlock and needs to be addressed.  The problem is how politicians, ON BOTH SIDES, use EVERYTHING as currency, EVERYTHING is treated as an item to be bartered with and used as LEVERAGE to get something they want MORE.  This tax holiday and oil pipe line are a great example of this practice, democrats and republicans both, IN GENERAL, support the extension of the payroll tax holiday BUT democrats want it more than Republicans do.  So since Republicans want this tax holiday a bit less than Democrats they are using it, even though they support it, to leverage the oil pipe line that Republicans want and Democrats do not want as much.  
     
    This “EVERYTHING IS CURRENCY” mentality makes progress very hard and slow because it’s not just about a single issue.  It’s not as simple as voting “YES” I support that or “NO” I do not, it turns into..yeah it’s a good idea but…what are you going to give me for it?  Please do NOT take this as me being partisan, democrats are just as guilty of this just and do it often. It simply happens to be in this particular case that Republicans are doing the leveraging. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      In terms of the aquifer for which environmentalists want the pipeline to be re-routed: the environmental studies have been done, and have concluded that the pipeline will not damage the aquifer, either in the short-term or in the long-term. The environmental studies have been done and have concluded that there are no significant environmental issues with building or using the pipeline. The president should have already approved the pipeline, but he’s putting it off until after the election for partisan reasons.

      On the other issue… I agree with you that both parties use legislation to advance their agenda, and sometimes use the “horse-trading” process to do this. However, I’m not convinced that (a) it’s really detrimental, or (b) that we can change it. In this case, the oil pipeline is something that the president should have approved already, but is holding up because of a partisan issue (his re-election). In fact, if we’re talking about using “everything as currency,” who’s to say that the president isn’t using the oil pipeline as currency in this case? Maybe he chose to save the approval of this pipeline to use as currency to get something passed in Congress that he really wants? Who’s to say that the inclusion of the pipeline in this bill isn’t exactly what he wants? Who’s to say that he didn’t know that he would need to give something to get something in the month of December, and he was holding the approval of the pipeline in his pocket in order to be able to “give something” to the Republicans in exchange for something he wanted? In my opinion, the Republicans putting the pipeline
      in the bill is just forcing him to do something that he already should
      have done.
      The Republicans aren’t getting something more than they
      should; they’re just getting the president to do the right thing.

      I’m not sure you’re ever going to get rid of the horse-trading in
      Washington, no matter how much you yell about “bipartisanship.” I don’t
      think you can pass a law that says that lawmakers should “get along.” In
      general, the people who are more aggressive in Washington get more done for
      their constituencies, and keep getting re-elected. So, you and I can
      complain about how fractured the process in Washington is, but that doesn’t
      mean it’s going to change.

      Go ahead, say I’m cynical…

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        Bob,
         
        The aquifer: You will have to forgive my cynicism about an oil pipe’s “safety” after events like the infamous BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico which as destroyed thousands of miles of wetlands, adversely affected the ecosystem, wildlife and businesses some of which can not be repaired or replaced; or the less media covered oil spill such as the Yellowstone River oil spill which occurred over the summer causing environmental damage and evacuations. The objections to this pipeline in regards to its environmental risks can NOT be understated since the water source in question is the one of America’s largest fresh water supplies. ANY risk of contamination is “significant” and must be avoided. 
         
        So I assume that you not answering my question regarding the legislative link between the payroll tax holiday and the oil pipe line means you agree there is no connection between the two at all.  So since we agree that these issues are completely unrelated I do not follow your thought process that the President was holding onto this issue as something to “give” Republicans. There is no logical reason why anyone would think that the oil pipe line would have become apart of the negotiations regarding a payroll tax holiday, maybe this fell into his lap but I don’t see how he could have plan this out.  Now I would agree with you that President Obama is putting off the pipe line for political reason but lets not pretend the last 2 years has not been all about the 2012 election for Republicans in Congress.  If Republicans actually cared about creating jobs before the 2012 election they had an opportunity to do that, they decided that trying to beat Barak Obama in 2012 was more important.  You can argue that point it you want to but the proof is in the NAY votes.  You can say they opposed his views on how to create jobs or how to pay for this and that but the bottom line is the Republicans in Congress decided their best chance for taken back the White House included keeping the job recovery sluggish.  Lets not single out the President for play politics with legislation.  There are a lot of things which SHOULD HAVE BEEN done already but haven’t. 
         
        I understand that SOME amount of quid pro quo is going to happen and may actually help things get done, however when the level of gamesmanship is increased to the level it is at now it does become a hindrance to the process.  Each side feels like it has to take maximize their advantage in every situation because that will happen to them if the roles were reversed, every issue is trench warfare.  There have been 3…YES 3 situations where there have been threats to shutdown the government in the past 12 months, which is ridiculous! 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          The same “legislative link” exists between the oil pipeline and the payroll tax holiday as exists between the payroll tax holiday and the extension of unemployment insurance. You could ask the same question about the second set: why did Congress put the payroll tax holiday on the same bill as the unemployment extension? They both have economic impact. The payroll tax holiday encourages more consumption; the unemployment extension helps people who don’t have jobs; the oil pipeline approval actually stimulates economic activity without the government having to invest billions of dollars. There IS a connection, even if you don’t think there is.

          Furthermore, there doesn’t HAVE to be a connection, legislatively, for the president to hold on to an issue. He could say, “I’m going to withhold funding for your lunches until you pass my tax bill,” and it’s still using the same principle that you’re describing (political currency).

          The president didn’t have to KNOW what he was going to trade this issue for before deciding to withhold it. In this scenario, he found an issue that Republicans wanted, and he used his executive power to stall it until he found another issue that he wanted movement on that he could trade for.
          Just like currency, you don’t have to know what each dollar is for when you first put it in your pocket. All you need is to have dollars in your pocket when you want to buy something. Similarly, you don’t have to know
          what you’re going to spend your political capital on when you put an issue
          in your pocket (i.e. the oil pipeline). All you have to know is that you
          have that in your pocket to spend on SOMETHING. You don’t have to “plan it
          out.”

          Lastly, I WILL call you cynical if you think that the Republicans would
          actually rather have a bad economy in order to win the 2012
          election. I will agree that the result of the president’s policies is that
          the economy hasn’t grown, and Republicans don’t want to go
          further down the path of bad economic policies, but to say that
          Republicans want a bad economy is VERY cynical.

          In terms of the government shutdown opportunities this year… the
          Republican House has passed budgets each of the past 3 years, while the
          Democratic Senate has not passed ANY budget. If the Senate would do
          their job
          and pass a budget, then there would not have been ANY
          opportunities for a government shutdown. If you watch the video in this
          post, you’ll see Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying that the
          Senate has had more “show votes” this year than doing actual work.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Also, in terms of the environmental impact of the pipeline… there are people on the left that cannot accept that everything is being done that needs to be done.  Those people are those that oppose any economic growth if it impacts the environment AT ALL.

          There HAS to be a balance between taking care of the environment and taking care of people.  We need to be able to develop manufacturing and build things on the land to take care of people, while still doing what we can to ameliorate the environmental impact.

          And while we cannot realistically prevent ALL environmental accidents (as you gave some examples), we can make the probability much less, and that has been done in this case.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Also, in terms of the environmental impact of the pipeline… there are people on the left that cannot accept that everything is being done that needs to be done.  Those people are those that oppose any economic growth if it impacts the environment AT ALL.

          There HAS to be a balance between taking care of the environment and taking care of people.  We need to be able to develop manufacturing and build things on the land to take care of people, while still doing what we can to ameliorate the environmental impact.

          And while we cannot realistically prevent ALL environmental accidents (as you gave some examples), we can make the probability much less, and that has been done in this case.

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    Bob, sorry for the slow response I went out of town over the weekend. 
     
    The Aquifer: You are correct to say that we cannot eliminate ALL accidents that may have a negative impact on the environment, but to ensure that those unforeseen accidents don’t turn into something much worse you need to do your best to mitigate the risks.  In this case, that means re-routing the oil pipe line around one of the nation’s largest fresh water aquifers.  I am actually in favor of the oil pipe line but only if he is done responsibility and putting an oil pipe line through a national resource, such as the fresh water aquifer, is NOT the responsible way to do it.  This isn’t about environmental left wing crazies who oppose fossil fuels in any form, as you said.  This is about removing the potential for a massive disaster in the form of an oil spill into that fresh water aquifer, and the best and most effective way  to remove that risk is to re-route the oil pipe line. 
     
     
    “The Legislative Link”:  No the legislative link is not the same between the oil pipe line/payroll tax holiday as the payroll tax holiday/unemployment insurance as you said.  For one because there is no legislative link for the oil pipe line, what you outlined was an ECONOMIC link not a legislative one. The fact that both pieces of legislation would help the economy is NOT a “legislative link”.  Secondly there is a legislative link for the payroll tax holiday and/unemployment insurance because there are both set to expire at the end of the year which means they both need to be extended, this is NOT the case with the oil pipe line.  So while you highlighted the economic similarities of the legislation you FAILED to show any LEGISLATIVE link between the two issues which would require the oil pipe line to be apart of this negation.  
     
     
    The President’s Role: I am not going to engage your hypothetical scenario in which it is the President, and not the Republicans, in particular House “Tea Party” Republicans who are playing games here.  You simply invented this scenario in your previous post with conjecture and now are running with it despite all evidence to the contrary; that evidence being House Republicans shooting down the bill which passed the Senate with enormous bipartisan support, a vote of 89-10…Yeah that’s 89-10. You can attack the bill’s merits if you would like but it seems Senate leadership and rank n’ file members on both sides of the Senate accepted this deal. Again it’s House “Tea Party” Republicans…
     
     
    The Oil Pipe Line:  Getting to the actual oil pipe line I am in favor of it.  However I said before I simply want it done with environmental responsibility.  Yes it will create jobs, and yes getting more oil produced in North America versus the Middle East is a good thing.  But if your “LINK” is simply going to be that it creates jobs then lets tact on President Obama’s jobs bill and lets tact on the infrastructure bank this list could go on and on.  Mudding up the waters of this negation with “horse trading” does not make this process easier or faster, it is slowing thing down the process and making compromise more difficult to achieve. 
     
     
    My cynical side: I did not pull this idea out of thing air, it was the Republican leadership who stated their number one goal was not getting Americans back to work, was not helping the middle class, was NOT getting the economy back on track, it was Republican leadership who stated their NUMBER ONE GOAL was making Barak Obama a one term President.  Who exactly are you agreeing with when you say… “I will agree that the result of the president’s policies is that the economy hasn’t grown, and Republicans don’t want to go further down the path of bad economic policies…”? You aren’t agreeing with me, Republicans have made sure President Obama has gotten as little as what he wanted as possible even if that has meant doing nothing for America in a time of need.  For Republicans, who want to see Obama go down, doing NOTHING is better than giving Obama a growing economy.  A growing economy would mean President Obama would be that much more difficult to defeat in 2012.  For Republicans, doing NOTHING is better than finding compromise and having the economy improve before the election in 2012.  That is NOT me being cynical that is what has happened.  You can blame it on ideological differences but time and time again Obama has compromised his position to meet Republicans half way (yes, sometimes just for political showmanship) but has gotten nothing to very little in return.  President Obama has been very successful at placing himself in the middle, and showing America how HE is willing to compromise and how Republicans are NOT. 
     

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      The Aquifer: The EPA has done an environmental impact study along the current proposed pipeline, and has concluded that an oil spill would not be a huge thing, even if it’s done “in the aquifer.” The current route is the safest one for the environment. The Ogallala Aquifer is not a giant underground lake as some might think. Rather, it’s actually composed of gravel, silt, sediment, sand and stone in which water is held. This composition acts as a filter to dirt and oil, and can eve nact as a barrier and protect the water within the Aquifer. Several studies by the State Department and by experts like hydrogeologist Jim Goeke and geologist Bob Diffendal have stated that of all the routes considered, the current proposed route is the safest for the environment and people along the route. Goeke has noted several times that any spill from the pipeline would be extremely limited and not affect the aquifer in general. Any leak in the pipeline would affect “10’s or 100’s of feet around the pipeline.” The very structure of the aquifer as a composite collection of porous rock, sand and sediment makes it so that oil could not permeate the general aquifer.

      The “Legislative Link”: If we’re using timing as a standard for whether we can put two issues on the same piece of legislation (which is NOT, and has never been, a standard, by the way), the Keystone pipeline was supposed to be approved in December, so you could say that it, too, has the same legitimacy to be on this bill. However, I would say that there’s no
      precedent for saying that there must be a “legislative link” to put issues
      on the same bill, and you’re using this as a political tool.

      The president’s role: The president has just as much reason to “play games”
      with this legislation; you’re just not willing to admit this. If the
      president were not “playing politics,” he would have approved the pipeline
      in December, as he should have, instead of holding it as political
      currency. In terms of the Senate passing it… the president was not happy
      that they passed a 2-month extension, so the House is working with him to
      make a year-long extension. My guess is the House will eventually pass the
      Senate bill and go home for Christmas. Your saying “It’s just the Tea
      Party Republicans” is merely bowing to political marketing.

      An interesting fact for you, though, about parliamentary procedure… the
      Senate actually passed the House bill. It’s the same bill, except
      the Senate made an amendment to the bill. People are talking about this
      being a “Senate bill,” but it’s not. So, the House can choose either to
      pass the bill with the Senate’s amendment, or they can vote the amendment
      down, and the House and the Senate will go into a conference committee,
      which is the place where the two versions of the bill are reconciled.
      After the conference committee agrees on a final bill, then both the House
      and the Senate vote on the final form. This is the process that bills
      always go through, but it’s interesting that the Democrats in the
      Senate want to circumvent part of the process in order to get what they
      want. Harry Reid says that if the bill goes to conference it won’t get
      passed before the end of the year (because the Senate’s gone home for
      Christmas), but that’s not true. In fact, it will probably be easier to
      pass something this way; if the conference committee agrees on something,
      then both the Senate and the House can approve the conference report on a
      voice vote (or the House on an actual vote, and the Senate on a voice vote)
      with very few Senators present. This whole “The Republicans want a tax
      increase on the middle class because they won’t pass the Senate version”
      rhetoric is absolute tripe, and is Democratic marketing.

      The Oil Pipeline: Of course you’re in favor of it; everyone’s in favor of
      it. The Obama administration is “in favor” of it. The environmental
      impact studies have been done, and have shown that the current proposed
      pipeline is the safest route for the environment.

      My cynical side: Everyone that hold’s political office has the same #1
      goal: stay in office, and get their opposition out of office. The
      Republicans’ #1 goal is to retain the House, win the Senate, and make
      President Obama a one-term president. The Democrats’ #1 goal is to retain
      the White House, retain the Senate, and win control of the House. There
      may be a few people who are willing to lose their seats out of principle,
      but President Obama is not one of them. Nor is Nancy Pelosi, Mitch
      McConnell, John Boehner, or Harry Reid. Their #1 goal is not to help the
      middle class, nor getting the economy back on track. I agree with you that
      the Republicans have not let Obama do certain things; what I would disagree
      with you about is that they’ve done this for the sole purpose of
      making him a one-term president. That’s absolutely absurd. If that were a
      valid argument, then this would be as well: the House of Representatives
      have passed at LEAST 30 bills that would have a HUGELY positive impact on
      the economy, but the Liberal Democratic leadership in the Senate and
      President Obama have done nothing to help the middle class in America, and
      have done nothing to help the American economy. Furthermore, they have
      only proposed legislation that would help their political cronies (as in
      the American Jobs Act), to the detriment of the rest of the economy. The
      stagnating economy is NOT the doing of the Republicans; rather it’s because
      the Democrats have held up true economic recovery with their misguided
      obstructionism. The Republicans have done SOMETHING while the Democrats
      have done NOTHING. President Obama has done very little in his four years
      in terms of leadership; he’s let the congressional Democrats lead EVERY
      time. And when he’s injected himself into the negotiations, it’s only been
      to SLOW DOWN a compromise, rather than to speed one up. Just look at the
      current debate over the payroll tax holiday. The only substantive things
      he’s done in this debate is to say that he won’t sign a bill that has the
      Keystone pipeline attached, which is probably the one MAJOR thing that’s
      been holding up the bill. When he dropped that demand, the legislation is
      poised to sail through Congress. He’s a weak leader, a weak negotiator,
      and a bad executive.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      The Aquifer: The EPA has done an environmental impact study along the current proposed pipeline, and has concluded that an oil spill would not be a huge thing, even if it’s done “in the aquifer.” The current route is the safest one for the environment. The Ogallala Aquifer is not a giant underground lake as some might think. Rather, it’s actually composed of gravel, silt, sediment, sand and stone in which water is held. This composition acts as a filter to dirt and oil, and can eve nact as a barrier and protect the water within the Aquifer. Several studies by the State Department and by experts like hydrogeologist Jim Goeke and geologist Bob Diffendal have stated that of all the routes considered, the current proposed route is the safest for the environment and people along the route. Goeke has noted several times that any spill from the pipeline would be extremely limited and not affect the aquifer in general. Any leak in the pipeline would affect “10’s or 100’s of feet around the pipeline.” The very structure of the aquifer as a composite collection of porous rock, sand and sediment makes it so that oil could not permeate the general aquifer.

      The “Legislative Link”: If we’re using timing as a standard for whether we can put two issues on the same piece of legislation (which is NOT, and has never been, a standard, by the way), the Keystone pipeline was supposed to be approved in December, so you could say that it, too, has the same legitimacy to be on this bill. However, I would say that there’s no precedent for saying that there must be a “legislative link” to put issues on the same bill, and you’re using this as a political tool.

      The president’s role: The president has just as much reason to “play games” with this legislation; you’re just not willing to admit this. If the president were not “playing politics,” he would have approved the pipeline in December, as he should have, instead of holding it as political currency. In terms of the Senate passing it… the president was not happy that they passed a 2-month extension, so the House is working with him to make a year-long extension. My guess is the House will eventually pass the Senate bill and go home for Christmas. Your saying “It’s just the Tea Party Republicans” is merely bowing to political marketing.

      An interesting fact for you, though, about parliamentary procedure… the Senate actually passed the House bill. It’s the same bill, except the Senate made an amendment to the bill. People are talking about this being a “Senate bill,” but it’s not. So, the House can choose either to pass the bill with the Senate’s amendment, or they can vote the amendment down, and the House and the Senate will go into a conference committee, which is the place where the two versions of the bill are reconciled. After the conference committee agrees on a final bill, then both the House and the Senate vote on the final form. This is the process that bills always go through, but it’s interesting that the Democrats in the Senate want to circumvent part of the process in order to get what they want. Harry Reid says that if the bill goes to conference it won’t get passed before the end of the year (because the Senate’s gone home for Christmas), but that’s not true. In fact, it will probably be easier to pass something this way; if the conference committee agrees on something, then both the Senate and the House can approve the conference report on a voice vote (or the House on an actual vote, and the Senate on a voice vote) with very few Senators present. This whole “The Republicans want a tax increase on the middle class because they won’t pass the Senate version” rhetoric is absolute tripe, and is Democratic marketing.

      The Oil Pipeline: Of course you’re in favor of it; everyone’s in favor of it. The Obama administration is “in favor” of it. The environmental impact studies have been done, and have shown that the current proposed pipeline is the safest route for the environment.

      My cynical side: Everyone that hold’s political office has the same #1 goal: stay in office, and get their opposition out of office. The Republicans’ #1 goal is to retain the House, win the Senate, and make President Obama a one-term president. The Democrats’ #1 goal is to retain the White House, retain the Senate, and win control of the House. There may be a few people who are willing to lose their seats out of principle, but President Obama is not one of them. Nor is Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, or Harry Reid. Their #1 goal is not to help the middle class, nor getting the economy back on track. I agree with you that the Republicans have not let Obama do certain things; what I would disagree with you about is that they’ve done this for the sole purpose of making him a one-term president. That’s absolutely absurd. If that were a valid argument, then this would be as well: the House of Representatives have passed at LEAST 30 bills that would have a HUGELY positive impact on the economy, but the Liberal Democratic leadership in the Senate and President Obama have done nothing to help the middle class in America, and
      have done nothing to help the American economy. Furthermore, they have only proposed legislation that would help their political cronies (as in the American Jobs Act), to the detriment of the rest of the economy. The stagnating economy is NOT the doing of the Republicans; rather it’s because the Democrats have held up true economic recovery with their misguided obstructionism. The Republicans have done SOMETHING while the Democrats have done NOTHING. President Obama has done very little in his four years
      in terms of leadership; he’s let the congressional Democrats lead EVERY time. And when he’s injected himself into the negotiations, it’s only been to SLOW DOWN a compromise, rather than to speed one up. Just look at the current debate over the payroll tax holiday. The only substantive things he’s done in this debate is to say that he won’t sign a bill that has the Keystone pipeline attached, which is probably the one MAJOR thing that’s been holding up the bill. When he dropped that demand, the legislation is poised to sail through Congress. He’s a weak leader, a weak negotiator, and a bad executive.

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        The Aquifer: If scientific research has been done and that research states the aquifer will not be dramatically affected, then I say no problem, but I say that with reservations because if that was the case why have heard talk about a provision in the oil pipe line legislation which removes the EPA’s regulation over a parts of the pipe line project?  If the project is environmental responsible why do you need exceptions writing into the law from EPA regulation?    “The Legislative Link”: Again there is no legislative link between these issues, which I have pointed out clearly, and you have not been able to dispute.  NO its not just a matter of “time” as you argue, as I stated before it’s about the fact that both the payroll tax holiday and the unemployment benefits are set to EXPIRE at the end of the year. That is what gives those two issues the legislative link, and not the oil pipe line.  The oil pipe line proposal is NOT something which is about to expire and run out of funding, it simply being put in the negotiation as apart of the “everything is currency” practice in Washington and its inclusion in this discussion has slowed things down and made compromise more difficult.  Since there is an element of urgency needed here, both practically and politically, it should be pointed out who is making these negotiations more difficult and that is the Republicans who are bringing an UNRELATED issue into the negotiations.    The Oil Pipe Line: Agreed, we both support it.   My Cynical Side:  You can say that in the political arena everyone’s ultimate goal is to get the other guy out of office and overall you are correct but that goal isn’t normally accomplished at the detriment of the nation like it has with Republicans in this Congress. Unprecedented use of the filibuster, extreme partisanship, a complete lack of compromise, and holding to a political ideology instead of responsible governorship has led to gridlock in a time when our country need our elected officials to ACT.  In a time when our nation was in a serious recession our leaders were needed to do big things, needed to come together, for the good of the nation.  Your OPINION about House Republican proposals or your OPINION about President Obama’s proposals and their impact are not the point.  Nor are your accusations of democrats being obstructionist despite the obvious and overwhelming fact that it has been Tea Party Republicans who are the “party of NO” and the “do nothing congress”. It is the Tea Party Republicans who would prefer to hold to a rigid ideology than compromise and act like a responsible governing body.  If not for the Tea Party Republicans we could have entitlement reform right and a $4+ Trillion budget deal to reduce the deficit.  It was Tea Party Republicans who pushed for 2 government shutdowns, possible default and the credit downgrade,  President Obama has been willing to compromise, he was willing to put entitlement reform on the table for allowing the bush tax cuts to expire for those making over $250K but Tea Party Republicans rejected it.  President Obama wanted a big deficit reduction plan but Tea Party Republican unwillingness to put revenues on the table made the deal impossible.  You can disagree or agree with the policy because people have different views on policy but compromise much be apart of the process when working in a divided government and Tea Party Republicans have overall been unwilling to do that.  Your attack of democrats being the obstructionist is ridiculous and absurd not because they have never slowed a legislative process or said no but because Tea Party Republican are doing that on a level never seen in congress before.    President Obama: Yes President Obama has not been a strong leader or negotiator.  Which is apart of the reason I have been open to voting for someone else in 2012 but not if Republicans are going to bring an idiot as their nominee my hand are kind of tied.  President Obama has sought compromise or the middle ground to soon and given away a lot in the hopes of getting a deal done to really very little success.  His style of always trying to find a middle ground just made the Republicans push even harder (if you give a mouse a cookie….) Unfortunately even with Obama many times giving up more than he should, Tea Party Republicans still have not made deals with him because of reasons I spoke to early.  To your point of President Obama passing off things to Congress, yes he has done that but it has not always been his choice.  Republicans during the budget debate on a few instances said they would sit down for talks only if Obama was NOT involved, either because he is so unpopular with their Republican base or whatever so let not put that ALL on Obama. 

        • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

          I dont know what happened to my spacing, I did the same as I always do..sorry if it is hard to read.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I have not heard of any exceptions to EPA regulations that have been written into the bill in order to stop regulation of the Keystone pipeline.  I did a bunch of different searches on Google to that extent, and found nothing.  I did, however, find an EPA stipulation in the bill unrelated to the Keystone project, about industrial boilers.  Can you point me in the direction of what you’re talking about?

          The “Legislative Link” – I do not concede that your “legislative link” is a valid concept, nor that it would be as narrowly defined as you as saying it is, even if it were a thing.  Unrelated issues are a fact of life in politics.  If things had to be “legislatively linked” in this bill, then there would be no talk about how to pay for it, because how to pay for it would be abundantly clear… directly raise taxes to pay for this issue.  Instead, we’re “paying for it” by dealing with “unrelated issues” – adjusting the budget for other, unrelated things.  Your “legislative link” is, in my opinion, only a way to indict Republicans for one more thing.  Your “everything as currency” issue is valid, to the extent that we can say it’s a problem, though not necessarily to the extent that anything can be done about it.  But your “legislative link” issue is not valid, in my opinion.

          I will let your cynical statement stand as it is, though I don’t agree with it.  Being a partisan, I understand that you have to believe that this is the most partisan time in our nation’s history, and the Republicans are the culprit, even if it’s not necessarily the case.  Democrats/liberals need to see the Republicans as obstructionist in order to justify their economic viewpoint… that it’s the Republicans that have made the economy stagnate.  The fact is, the Democrats controlled EVERY part of the government for two years, and had the opportunity to make an environment in which the economy would thrive, and didn’t.  In fact, the policies that they passed during that time were to the detriment of the economy.  But, as Democrats, they can’t acknowledge that their economic views were incorrect.  All that they can say now is, “We didn’t go far enough, and the Republicans won’t let us go further now!  They’re the obstructionists.”

          Lastly, I think that you’ve really drunk the MSNBC coolaid if you think that the “Tea Party Republicans” are the “party of NO” and the “do nothing Congress.”  Wow.  In fact, that whole paragraph was just one liberal rant, so I’m just going to skip over it.  From an “independent,” I expect better.

          President Obama: I’m not sure that you can say that Obama is the compromiser among the lot, since it looks like each of these “standoffs” has ended in a compromise that has been acceptable to both the Republicans and the Democrats.  You may see President Obama as a compromiser; I don’t see him so much as a compromiser as someone who caves in to any pressure.  This is why he’s not a strong leader or a good negotiator.  I can’t believe that anyone who would categorize President Obama as a weak leader would vote for him again.  Who wants a president who only rubber stamps what Congress approves, after making some token objections to the legislation?  I can’t think of anyone who would truly want a weak leader in the Oval Office.  OK, I can think of probably four people that would want a really weak president: Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell.  Their power rises in the absence of a powerful president.

          I can also understand how a partisan would vote for a weak president.  The theory behind this vote is, “I’d rather have a Democratic placeholder president, even if he’s weak and will rubberstamp everything that Congress does, than have a Republican president.”

          But I don’t understand why a stated non-partisan (or “independent” or “moderate”) person would vote for a weak leader and negotiator as president.  Independents and moderates want each branch to be a check on the others (as opposed to a rubber stamp), so they want a strong president as well as a strong Congress.

          I’m probably missing something here in your reasoning.  Can you explain to me why you (as an independent) would want a weak president that acts as a rubber stamp to Congress?

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            EPA: I only heard a portion of the conversation on the radio
            perhaps that it was unrelated to the Keystone Pipeline debate…I cannot say for
            sure.  I will do some research tomorrow and
            let you know if I find anything.

             

            “The Legislative Link”: The reason why the legislative link
            may be an issue is IF a bill
            doesn’t get passed and both the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits
            lapse.  IF that happens it will because Republicans brought an
            unrelated issue into the negotiations which muddied the waters and made finding
            a compromise more difficult.  However if
            a deal does get done then this whole “link” debate will be void, so I hope
            House Republicans will snap out of it, stop taking crazy pills, and support the
            proposed agreement which was negotiated by Senate Republicans and has vast
            bipartisan support as soon by the 89-10 vote. 
            There is a ticking clock here and time is running out…

             

            My cynical side: It is not my opinion that partisanship is
            at an extreme level right now.  The
            filibuster has been abused by Republicans in this congress so much so that
            serious talks about filibuster reform have gain steam among political
            circles.  The numbers don’t lie and
            filibuster numbers are way up in this congress. 
            Partisanship and brinksmanship is also very prevalent in the Republican Party,
            do you need evidence of that?  Think back
            to the America’s credit downgrade, S&P did site political grid as apart of their
            reasons for the downgrade and it seems they were correct to do so considering
            the failure of the Obama/Boehner talks and the “Super Committee’s” Super
            failure.  They couldn’t even agree on
            $1.2 Trillion in deficit reduction. Republican are stupid they know that there
            is a real link (since we are talking links) between the economy and President
            Obama’s chances for re-election.  If
            Republicans want to take back the White House that goal is much harder to
            achieve if the economy is back on track and jobless rates are failing when
            voting time comes around.  You may want
            to deny this but Republican have done the absolute minimum to avoid being seen
            as COMPLETELY unreasonable and had to balanced that to not helping the economy
            rebound to much before 2012.  Being an
            Independent doesn’t mean you have to defend both sides of the political spectrum
            especially when one side, House Republicans, have been so irresponsible as a
            governing body. 

             

            The Obama Administration: The Obama Administration has made
            many mistakes, some of which were huge mistakes but that wasn’t the topic of
            our conversation, which is why I didn’t mention them. I was address YOUR opinions
            that Republicans were simply doing what they thought was best for country and
            democrats were to blame for our current woes. 
            This false framing of the debate is what I addressed with my rant but I
            can of course point out some of the failures of the Obama administration as
            well.  For one the Obama Administration
            came into office with a lot of momentum and “political currency”. They could
            have tackled any issue they wanted, they could have gone after the banks, or
            gone after tax reform, or green energy jobs.  Instead they used that “political currency” on
            Obamacare, was healthcare a problem, yes it was but I don’t feel it should have
            been a top priority of the President at that time in America given the economic
            climate.  Secondly the Obama Administration
            should have raised the debt ceiling when they had majorities in both houses so
            America could have avoided that whole debt ceiling showdown. Third the Obama should
            have embraced and push the Simpson-Bowles Commission, it’s a bipartisan plan
            for saving and a good step toward deficit reduction.  If Obama (and Congress) could have gotten
            Simpson-Bowles passed we would have avoided the credit downgrade
            altogether. 

             

            Why support a mediocre President: It really boils down to
            the lesser of two evils in that case.  If
            Republicans put forth a candidate who is a moron or a clown my hands are tied.  I could run down the current list of
            candidates but I think you know my feelings about the Republican field at this
            point.  Santorum, Bachmann, Perry,
            Gingrich, Paul…seriously you find those candidates to be viable?  You can take it to the bank now if any of
            those candidates win the nomination Republicans will not only lose, they will
            lose by more than 7 points.  President
            Obama has his faults but when you look at the alternatives he looks better all
            the time.

             

             

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Regarding the filibuster (and I’m using this as an example of how where you get your “facts” can determine what you believe): I did a little “fact check” on your claim that the Republicans have used the filibuster a record number of times, and my search turned up multiple articles (MSNBC, Puffington Host, The Daily Beast, Political Wire) that all cited the same statistic. I’m assuming this is the same one that you’ve heard and are citing: in the 110th Congress, there were a record 112 cloture votes in the Senate, and in the 111th Congress, there were already 40 at the time these pieces were written (presumably from the same press release, since it’s the exact same information).

            However, I dug a little bit deeper, and found that cloture votes don’t necessarily indicate that a filibuster was present. I’m quoting from a Congressional Research report:

            “In recent times, conversely, the Senate leadership has increasingly utilized cloture as a routine tool to manage the flow of business, even in the absence of any apparent filibuster. For these reasons, the presence or absence of cloture attempts cannot be taken as a reliable guide to the presence or absence of a filibuster. Inasmuch as filibustering does not depend on the use of any specific rules, whether a filibuster is present is always a matter of judgment.”

            The Senate leadership (Democrats) has been using the cloture motion as a
            tool to manage the flow of business, yet they use cloture statistics to say
            that filibustering has been increasing with Republicans in the minority??
            It’s a contrived statistic.

            So, in the absence of any real evidence that the Republicans are
            “abusing” the filibuster in the Senate… maybe you have other evidence?

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            http://uspolitics.about.com/od/usgovernment/a/filibuster.htm
            By their nature, filibusters elevate visibility of the issue at hand and have, as a by-product, the potential to inspire compromise. A final vote can only be taken if 60 Senators agree; this is called a vote of cloture (vote to end the filibuster). According to the US Senate website, the word filibuster — derived from a Dutch word meaning “pirate” — was first used more than 150 years ago to describe “efforts to hold the Senate floor in order to prevent action on a bill.” Rule 22The filibuster is related to “cloture,” a rule adopted almost 100 years ago requiring a two-thirds vote. At times this was two-thirds of those voting; for a limited time, it was two-thirds of membership. In 1975, the Senate reduced the number of votes needed to invoke cloture to three-fifths (60) of Senate membership. At the same time, they made the filibuster “invisible” by requiring only that 41 Senators state that they intend to filibuster; critics say this makes the modern filibuster “painless.”
             
            This cloture rule forces not just a simply majority but forces a 3/5 vote.  This procedure while it falls short of the full 2/3 required by a true “filibuster” it is being used in the same way as the filibuster to kill legislation sought by the majority, and being used quite often as shown in the statistics below.  The term “cloture” can NOT be used interchangeably with “filibuster”  because of the required voting differences but the intent, purpose and implementation is the same. The use of cloture has increased in recent years, as the numbers show.  Both in the consistently higher percentage numbers and the direct number of instances when cloture has been invoked which is affect by the explosion of motions filed but the percentage is still higher than other historic norms. By EITHER standard, cloture is being used at a more frequent rate.  When you look at the percentages the last 4 U.S. Senates were using cloture at a rate of 40% or greater. 
            http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/reference/cloture_motions/clotureCounts.htm
            Congress: Motions filed/Number of times cloture was invoked/percentage of time cloture was invoked
            112th: 48/19/40%                                                       
            111th: 137/63/46%
            110th: 139/61/44%
            109th: 68/34/50%
            108th: 62/12/19%
            107th: 71/34/47%
            106th: 71/28/39%
            105th: 69/18/26%
            104th: 82/9/11%
            103th: 80/14/18%
            102nd: 60/23/38%
            101st: 38/11/28%
            100th: 54/12/22%
            99th: 41/10/24%
            98th: 41/11/26%
            97th: 31/10/32%
            96th: 30/11/36
             
             

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Also a filibuster used to mean the objecting party had to be on the floor of Congress actively there… that is not the case anymore which is why when cloture votes are taken it IS in response to a filibuster even though it may not be seen on the floor of the Senate.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            I understand what cloture is and when it’s used. But when the Senate says that the cloture motion is used frequently to manage the flow of legislation, and not to stop a filibuster, you cannot attribute the rise in cloture to an increase in Republican partisanship.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Are you saying you see NO link between increased cloture votes and Republican obstructism in the Senate?

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. Since cloture is, recently, used as a tool for legislative management by the Democratic leadership, you cannot accurately draw a connection between the rise in cloture votes and an increase in partisanship of one party or another. To say that is the case is to twist statistics to make a partisan point, without regard to what’s actually happening.

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Yes you are correct about the EPA regulation its is a rider in the bill which was put in to appease Republicans.   http://www.politico.com/morningenergy/1211/morningenergy394.html
             
            “EPA’s rules are under attack in the form of potential policy riders to a $1 trillion-plus spending bill that top House and Senate officials have been working through all weekend. GOP leadership is hoping that the list of riders — which could also include amendments aimed at coal regulations and the roadless rule for logging in national forests — will be enough to win support of rank-and-file members looking to hold the hardest of lines on federal spending.
            Even without riders, the EPA is expected to face new cuts of about $300 million. POLITICO’s David Rogers has the inside story on the spending negotiations: http://politico.pro/sK7zeo.
            BUT THAT’S NOT ALL: House leaders are also looking to use year-end legislation to extend the payroll tax cut to advance their energy tax policy. Republicans rolled out legislation Friday that would extend the tax holiday and unemployment insurance, but would also force the State Department to make a final decision on Keystone XL within 60 days. The measure also includes language blocking EPA’s boiler MACT rule that would clamp down on mercury, lead and soot emissions. (A summary of H.R. 3630: http://1.usa.gov/voXIUk)”
             
            Yes thank you Republicans lets regulate mercury and lead LESS…that sounds healthy!!!!
            http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/2011/05/green-christians-stewards-of-earth.html

  • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

    So now Republicans between the Senate and the House can’t even get on the same page…talk about divided government!

    http://news.yahoo.com/house-gop-rejects-2-month-payroll-tax-cut-175628308.html
    “The House vote, 229-193, kicks the measure back to the Senate, where the bipartisan two-month measure passed on Saturday by a sweeping 89-10 vote. The Senate then promptly left Washington for the holidays. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says he won’t allow bargaining until the House approves the Senate’s short-term measure.”
     
     
    Republicans of course wanted the millionaire surtax removed, so it was removed.  Republicans wanted the Keystone Pipeline added, so it was added. Senate Republicans agreed to this short term extension to give both side time to negotiation the year long deal and make sure its paid for…but YET AGAIN House “Tea Party” Republicans can’t even say YES to its own party…how is that for partisan? 
     
     
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/20/payroll-processors-say-two-month-fix-undoable/
    “House Republicans defending their opposition to a two-month payroll tax extension are pointing to a letter sent by a payroll processing trade organization that says even if the bill were made law, it’s logistically impossible to make the changes in tax software before the extension expires…”The group wrote that a shortened deadline could create “substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”
     
    Republicans are saying NOW there isn’t enough lead time to properly implement the proposals?  Really! Perhaps Republicans shouldn’t have dragged things out by bring UNRELATED issues such as the Keystone Pipeline into the negotiations.  If these two proposals really don’t get extended in time, which I don’t think will happen but if they don’t, could you explain to me how House Republicans could be seen as anything but obstructionist?  Especially considering at the beginning of this process BOTH sides were pretty much in agreement that these two proposals were good for average American families.  Let me say this again because  its very telling, House “Tea Party” Republicans rejected a proposal which passed in the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support 89-10.  The deal can’t be that bad if it was getting that kind of support from both Republicans and Democrats. 

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      The problem with the implementation isn’t the lead time needed. The implementation problem is with a 2-month extension and IRS reporting requirements beginng based on a 3-month cycle. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info…

      • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

        That is the excuse House Republicans are spouting… its in the FoxNews link I provided, with the section quoted straight from the article. 

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          I watched 80% of the 6-hour debate on the floor of the House today, and not once did I hear someone say that the problem with implementation was there wasn’t enough lead time. No, wait. I guess I did hear one Democrat say that.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          If the quote immediately following the Fox News link is what Republicans are saying, it doesn’t lead one to think that the problem is lead time to implement the bill, but rather a problem with tax software updates, which cannot be made in order to properly report tax withholdings afterward.

          Also, when I read the Fox News story, the Republicans weren’t the ones objecting to the 2-month timeframe; they were only reporting that a trade organization had a logistical problem with the 2-month period. The headline on the article IS “Payroll Processors Say…” instead of “Republican lawmakers say…”

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          So, what is the problem with the 2-month extension, in terms of tax software? Well, being the business manager for a small business, I would have to say that companies buy their software once a year, and it’s probably pretty costly to get updates, both for the business (who has to buy an update), and for the software makers, who have to code it, stamp it, and ship it. It’s probably less costly to some small businesses that get automatic (free) updates for their software, but that doesn’t negate the cost of updating the software for the software makers.

          But, of course, software makers aren’t typically a constituency of the Democratic party, so what do they care, right? Screw ’em.

          Also, for larger businesses, that have more complex business systems (one of which I also work for), it’s probably pretty costly for them as well, to implement 2 changes. But, again, Democrats aren’t concerned with the costs of large businesses, ’cause they’re in the 1%. Screw ’em.

          What’s a little bit of money? It’s not like our economy could use any extra capital that’s laying around. Compared to the unity of Congress at Christmas, money in the hands of business is not worth anything. It’s only money. We want a shoddy bill! We want Congress to go home to eat, drink and be merry! The Senate’s already left! Bipartisanship! Yay!

          Well, and it’s not like the economy isn’t stimulated by the extra money
          that business has to spend to comply with this 2-month extension, right?
          [Common economic fallacy alert] I mean, businesses pay software preparers,
          which pays their software developers and tax consultants, who consume other
          goods and services. And everyone wins!

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob,
             
            Seriously?  The FIRST sentence of the FIRST paragraph states… “House Republicans defending their opposition to a two-month payroll tax extension are pointing to a letter sent by a payroll processing trade organization that says even if the bill were made law, it’s logistically impossible to make the changes in tax software before the extension expires…”
            Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/12/20/payroll-processors-say-two-month-fix-undoable/#ixzz1hB6IhUHj
             
            This does point to a software issue which you stated BUT, its NOT something that can not be fixed EVER, it is a matter of LEAD TIME because as the quote says “it’s logistically impossible to make the changes in tax software BEFORE THE EXTENSION EXPIRES… Republicans are pointing to this letter to defend why they didn’t pass the 2 month extension legislation, hence what I said that Republican are saying this. 
             
            Now to your software defense….really?  We shouldn’t extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance benefits because some businesses might have to spend some money on a software upgrade and have computer techs log some overtime ? By that logic we probably shouldn’t do any tax reform either,  I mean if we make the tax code simple to understand then a lot of tax lawyers and accounting firms might lose business…YES PROTECT THE 1%, SCREW EVERYONE ELSE, SCREW THE BIG PICTURE! 
             
            Don’t try and make Democrats the scapegoats, it doesn’t hold water…at least not yet.  If negotiations were not so dragged out by Republicans demanding an UNRELATED pipeline deal this “lead time” wouldn’t be an issue.  Republicans pushed negotiations on too long trying to get everything they could out of this deal, and now it has come around to bite every in the a$$.  Neither side is blameless here however… is this “shoddy bill” being put together because Congress is lazy and doesn’t want to work through the holiday…YES absolutely. Is Harry Reid being stubborn and stupid by not calling the Senate back to get the long term deal done now, again YES, but both sides are still in agreement that both the payroll tax holiday and unemployment insurance will be extended through the rest of the year.  Don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good here.  The problem with the year long deal is that terms for that have not been negotiated and there is no guarantee that one would be reached before the current tax holiday and unemployment benefits are set expire.  That can not be allowed to happen especially for unemployment insurance because of the obvious negative impact that would have on American families and the economy.  The two month deal gives breathing room for Congress to negotiate the long term deal. A possible solution here for House Leadership to agreed to pass the 2 month extension for the Senate coming back NOW.  That way if they can get a long term deal done before the payroll tax holiday/unemployment benefits expire you can simply implement that plan right way, but if talks don’t succeed you still have the 2 month cushion. 
             
             
            The short term agreement was able to be agreed upon because it was written with just agreed to parameters not the contested ones, which is why it received such a large number of votes in the Senate.  A long term agreement will take more time to negotiate.  Harry Reid has said he will NOT restart negotiations with Republicans until they have agreed to the short term deal,  the 2 month deal was supposed to give them time to reach a longer term agreement.  Unfortunately House Republicans went against there own party and rejected the deal.  Should House Republican accept this deal even if it isn’t the best deal, but an ok deal for American families to have something going forward…maybe? Should Harry Reid get the Senate back and work out a long term deal now, even though there isn’t any legislation protecting American families currently passed…maybe?   Politically, I see both sides of this one.  Harry Reid doesn’t want to come back to the negotiations until the deal he made with Senate Republicans is passed.  The House Republicans rejected the deal so if Americans get burned by no unemployment insurance or payroll tax holiday its Republicans are the ones who will be left holding the bag.  Now that is some cold stuff but it’s true.  On the other hand, House Republicans can say they were fighting for a long term deal, one that wasn’t kicking the can down the road another 2 months. But they have to know that if they do that, they are burning American families who are relying on unemployment insurance, and that is some cold stuff too. 

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            “Lead time” happens before the beginning of the extension. “Before the extension expires” implies that the software makers would have the entire length of the extension to make the changes. So, the point of the article was that software makers were saying that 2 months was not enough time to make changes. It’s not “lead time.” An example of “lead time” is the amount of time that was given for insurers to make the necessary changes to implement ObamaCare, which is implemented over a period of years. Insurers have enough lead time to implement each change before the change is mandatory.

            The software makers aren’t complaining about the amount of time between now and January 1 to implement the change; they’re saying that it’s impossible to implement the tax software changes before February 28. If there were a one-year extension, then they would have until December 31, 2012 to make the software changes.

            I’m in agreement with you that there is bipartisan culpability in this fiasco. I’m still a little bit unclear why a one-year extension couldn’t be done in the first place. Or, if it’s because of a disagreement over how to pay for it, how an additional two months of negotiations is going to make it easier, given that Congress has already been negotiating it for the same period of time.

            I read an interesting article this morning that you might want to read.
            It’s only slightly related to the current debate, in that it’s about a
            stable tax policy: http://bobewoldt.com/l/5i

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Bob,
             
            Ok we were using slightly different definitions of “lead time”, but I understand where you are coming from now.  The 2 month extension does have its issues, I stated that earlier BUT if this is all Congress can come up with now, for whatever reason, then it will have to do.  Don’t let the perfect stand in the way of the good.  Which is worse, passing the 2 month extension or not passing anything? I realize in theory there are quite a few more alternatives, but those alternatives don’t seem realistic at the moment.  If the 2 month extension does pass, businesses are really going to have to just trust Congress to pass this these proposals for the year, and given the current political climate that is going to be difficult for businesses to do.  Its really a bad situation and both sides have some blame for this one. 
             
            As for “why” Congress can’t get an year long extension passed, I am sure how to pay for it is a sticking point but also what percentage to cut or keep.  Republicans want a smaller payroll tax cut and democrats are pushing for a larger one (I think, maybe I have that backwards…). 
             
            I enjoyed your article that you linked.  Some believe that this payroll tax holiday is a bad thing altogether not because don’t believe in Keynesian economic theory, but because it is taking more money OUT of Social Security. It is making Social Security LESS solvent in the long run to try and help economically in the short term, which the article eluded to when it talked about a permanent payroll tax increase.  But in general, I completely agree with the link you posed that advocates for CERTAINTY in the tax code.  I believe I have said this before in previous tax debates with you that CERTAINTIY is critical to economic growth.  The tax rates could be jacked up to 45% and businesses would find a way to turn a profit it that tax rate was locked in say over the next 10 years.  Now, I am not saying that a 45% tax rate is a good idea, so don’t let your Republican head explode.  I believe that the tax code, especially the corporate tax code, should be simplified, eliminate deductions and lower the rates.  Of course we disagree on how much to lower rates, because I want gain net revenue from lowering the tax rates.  However I absolutely believe that real LASTING tax reform would do wonders for the economy. Quick tangent: there is a good policy idea in Clinton’s book back to work which had me change me mind on an issue.  I am not sure if you have gotten to this point in the book yet but Clinton proposes allowing corporations to repatriate overseas funds into the United States free from any tax burden IF they can prove that money was invested into hiring new workers.  If they cannot prove they used to money to hire workers they would pay the capital gains rate of 15%.  Sorry off topic for a bit there but YES creating certainty in the tax code is vital, and the only way that can happen is with bipartisanship.   It has to be a deal BOTH sides can live with for a long time that is the only way certainty will be achieved in divided government.   

          • http://brocmiddleton.blogspot.com/ Broc Middleton

            Briefly, I guess there are few more negotiation points that are holding up an agreement for a year long deal.  Republicans are pushing for shorting the unemployment benefits down from 99 weeks, they also want drug testing which I get in theory but it will have to be paid for and I am not sure in the implementation of testing personnel and lab work is economically sound, but I am sure that could be worked out. They did this drug testing program in FL and the rates of failed test were significantly lower than the national average. So these are a few more of the issues need to be worked out on top of how to pay for all this and the percentage of cut to for the payroll tax holiday.  So that is a lot to work out.