It only took until about lunch time on Monday to realize that the Thanksgiving break didn’t soften the edges on either political party, as the finger pointing and election maneuvering resumed in earnest in Washington, D.C after a holiday break.
The main flash point for the next few weeks is over President Obama’s call to renew a payroll tax cut for workers, which is due to expire at the end of the year.
Democrats are ready to force a vote in the Senate in coming days on the tax cut, which would be paid for by higher taxes on the wealthy – a poison pill for Republicans.
“Let’s examine the effects of their purely political opposition to a common-sense tax cut,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “If Republicans block passage of this legislation, they will be taking money out of the pockets of American families.”
A few minutes later on the Senate floor, we heard the opposing view from Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
“It’s no secret that many people at the White House and a number of Democrats here in the Senate would rather spend their time designing legislation to fail, in the hopes of trying to frame up next year’s election,” he said.
Down at the White House, reporters pestered Press Secretary Jay Carney with questions about what kind of deal the President would accept; Carney sidestepped those queries to focus on the GOP.
“What they seem not to believe is that millionaires and billionaires oughta pay a little extra,” Carney said from the podium.
That “little extra” would be a 3.25% tax surcharge on those who make more than $1 million per year in income, a plan that has not come close to buckling the knees of Republicans in the Congress yet.
Meanwhile in the U.S. House, Republicans signaled that they would pass more targeted jobs bills and send them to the Senate, upping the ante in their public charge that Senate Democrats are holding back progress on the economy by not considering multiple pieces of GOP legislation.
“House GOP set to pass & send Senate Dems even more jobs bills this week,” tweeted Speaker John Boehner on Monday afternoon.
Congress has only a couple of weeks to figure things out as both sides get back in the groove after being gone from the Capitol for a ten day break around Thanksgiving.
At this point, some kind of year-end-catch-all bill seems the most likely outcome, dealing both with funding the government into next year and extending the payroll tax cut along with extended long term jobless benefits.
But it won’t come easily and it won’t happen without a lot of finger pointing.