Over the weekend House Republican Leader John Boehner changed his position and came out in support of the President’s plan to provide middle class tax cuts, even without additional tax cuts worth about $100,000 to millionaires and paid for by borrowing $700 billion that we don’t have. Time will tell whether this change will lead to anything but continued support for the failed economic policies that got us into this mess, but for now we are certainly pleased to have his support.
However, shortly after his original statement, it became clear that Republicans remain intent on holding tax relief for middle class families hostage. As the Washington Post reported:
Even as Boehner shows voters that he is willing to be flexible, he has created some confusion within his party on the issue. Many GOP lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), believe it's a big mistake to raise taxes on anyone during an economic downturn. They want all the Bush cuts extended, no exceptions, a position McConnell vigorously reasserted Monday by introducing legislation for full extension.
According to McConnell, he will try to lead Republicans to block the continuation of middle class tax cuts – which would result in every single middle class family paying more taxes next year – unless large additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans are also added. Instead of working to pass middle class tax cuts that everyone should agree upon, McConnell is urging his Republican Senate colleagues to continue to follow his strategy of obstruction and gridlock that hurts American families. McConnell even boasted "That's a debate we're happy to have," adding, "That's the kind of debate that unifies my caucus." It’s also noteworthy that even after Boehner’s concession that blocking middle class tax relief would be the wrong thing to do, other House Republicans, including Boehner’s second-in-command Eric Cantor and House Republican Conference Chair Mike Pence, continued to say they would do their best to do so.
If Republican Leader Boehner took his position in order to show that he was not “holding middle-class tax cuts hostage,” then clearly the implication is that Senate Republicans are prepared to do exactly that.
Perhaps they have some things to talk through.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director