Updated: Boehner's brinksmanship

  • Article by: SUSAN HOGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 20, 2011 - 1:23 PM

Whether or not Congress extends the payroll tax cuts has become a middle class cliffhanger due to the antics of the House speaker.

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House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio)

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(Update: By a 229 to 193 vote Tuesday, House Republicans rejected the bipartisan Senate bill. Seven Republicans voted with Democrats in support of the Senate's bill. No Democrats voted with the Republicans.)

Never assume that any deal cut with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is solid. That’s because time and time again, he’s gone back on his word.

He did it with the budget bill that turned into a rancorous battle earlier this year. That ended with the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating.

Now, he’s doing it with extensions on payroll tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. Without the extension, many Americans will see their paychecks shrink.

The U.S. Senate, on the other hand, put aside partisanship Saturday to vote 89-10 to extend the cuts for another two months. Boehner, however, allegedly flip-flopped on an agreement to go along with the compromise.

Now, the GOP is reportedly refusing to let the matter be put to a vote in the House. Some say that’s because leaders fear the bill would receive bipartisan support and pass, as it did in the Senate.

Boehner says the two-month deal is no solution and that a one-year extension is needed. He’s right, but he’s also grandstanding.

When given the opportunity to pass a one-year extension last week, House Republicans tacked on partisan anti-environment, anti-health care riders instead of simply passing a no-strings attached bill.

Those riders included a provision that forces the Obama administration to make a decision on the controversial Keystone KL oil pipeline in 60 days. The GOP is making exaggerated claims about the number of jobs the pipeline would create.

Boehner’s brinksmanship is tiresome. At a time when they least need it, the middle class is on the brink of seeing tax increases because of the speaker’s shenanigans.

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Susan Hogan is a Star Tribune editorial writer.

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