So we have a deal … we think … on a bill to fund the government. So when does the carping about Congressional Democrats “caving” begin?
From Yahoo! News, it appears that Dems gave in on the millionaires surtax, and got in return, something about Cuba… seriously…
Negotiations on the payroll tax cut extension picked up pace after Democrats late on Wednesday dropped their demand that it be paid for with a surtax on millionaires, which Republicans staunchly opposed.
The payroll tax cut would give 160 million Americans about $1,000 a year in additional spending power. The White House and a number of economists say it would boost the country’s fragile economic recovery, although many Republicans question that.
On the spending bill, there were some major differences between Democrats and Republicans over policy initiatives backed by federal funds.
Republicans agreed to drop two provisions that would have restricted families living in the United States from traveling to Cuba or transferring money to relatives there, a Republican aide said.
The progress on Capitol Hill on Thursday raised hopes that Congress would avoid the first government shutdown since late 1995 and early 1996.
Remember that Congressional Democrats hold the leverage this time around, as any hike in the payroll tax would clearly have been framed as the fault of Republicans insisting on protecting the rich.
Democrats have officially dropped their push for a small surtax on millionaires as one means of offsetting the cost of the bill. And it’s unclear what they got in return, aside from a pledge from Republicans not to jam Democrats with their partisan payroll tax bill.
With the millionaire surtax gone, most of the cost of the bill will likely be paid for with budget cuts agreed to in Super Committee negotiations, which ultimately failed. To make up the difference, Democrats are insisting that the GOP abandon other, conservative payfors, such as greater means-testing in Medicare. Instead, they’re pushing Republicans to accept ideas like ending a tax benefit for corporate jet owners, and counting war savings toward the cost of the bill.
But it’s an expensive bill. Many of the payfors are contentions. And as a fall back, negotiators are kicking around the idea of extending the payroll cut and unemployment benefits for two months, and dealing with the rest of the year after Congress returns from holiday recess. Republicans aren’t as keen on this backstop as Democrats are, but it would prevent a temporary lapse in benefits while negotiators look for acceptable payfors under less heated circumstances.
Outside the payfors, Republicans are still pushing hard for a rider that would force the Obama administration to make a swift decision on the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Democrats, both on the Hill and at the White House, are softening their opposition to this demand. But it’s a tough call for Republicans as well. For them it’s a choice between embarrassing the Democrats and winning the politics and actually assuring that the pipeline gets built. The State Department, which holds the keys to the pipeline, insists that rushing the project will compromise their ability to conduct adequate study of the project and sign off on it.
It will be interesting to see whether the emo crowd finally goes after Congress for an apparent cave, or whether they wait around for President Obama to sign a budget and then go after him, the way it’s normally done. Tick tock…