Today’s lesson is: never underestimate the dysfunctionality of the current Congress.
At the end of last week, it looked like we’d bumbled our way to an agreement to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits for another two months…a lousy agreement—it’s utterly depressing to have to get back to this again in February—but an agreement nevertheless. Everyone declared victory and went home.
Except they’re back.
Once again, compromise appears to have been thwarted by a leadership failure in the House—Speaker Boehner can’t control his troops (the vote is set for this evening). Tea Partiers don’t like the deal and want to send it back to the Senate. Senate leader Harry Reid is saying no way—we had a deal. The NYT covers the issues usefully in this editorial.
The levels of misinformation here are running deep. Rep Boehner is arguing that hey, we want the same thing the White House wants, a full year extension, not just a lousy two months. But Tea Party members are not fighting with their own leadership because they want to provide more help to working people. They want the cram back the UI benefit cuts, austerity, and anti-environmental measures that were in the original House bill.
Hard, though getting easier, to imagine that Congress fails to extend payroll and UI. But DC felt a little friendlier with these guys out of town this weekend.