Steve Benen is most likely correct when he notes the GOP “negotiators” in the Senate side of the payroll tax cut fight starting next month have no intention of extending the cut at all. Senators Crapo, Barrasso and especially Jon Kyl being involved means the Republicans are signaling that they are okay with destroying any deal in an election year.
[T]he likelihood of there even being an agreement now borders on fanciful. Republican participants won’t be willing to compromise, and most of them don’t fear failure since they oppose tax breaks for the middle class on principle.
What about the risk of being blamed? Remember, as far as GOP leaders are concerned, the process itself offers cover. Instead of last week, when House Republicans became the clear villains, when the conference committee struggles to come up with a bipartisan solution, the party will find it easier to spread the blame around.
“It’s not our fault,” GOP leaders will say. “We tried to work with Democrats on a deal, but one didn’t come together. Oh well.”
For Republicans, it’s the best of all possible worlds: middle-class taxes would go up, the economy would take a hit, public disgust for Washington would be renewed, and the media would feel obligated to say “both sides” failed to reach an agreement.
Now Benen’s scenario depends entirely on the “Earth is flat, view differ” Village “journalism” that is so pervasive in the press, and with the election season officially beginning on Tuesday in Iowa, we’re already seeing the GOP also-rans work the refs. The larger problem is that the GOP is basically trumpeting the fact they want to screw over the middle class, and the Village is more than happy to go along with the idea of “shared sacrifice.”
You have to be pretty cynical to think that the GOP will win this fight. Sadly, such a level of cynicism is not only recommended, it’s absolutely necessary.