House Republican Leaders Appear to Have Recognized That They Have a Problem

Nearly 16 months after they were given control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections, it appears that Republican leaders in the House have finally taken the first step to recovery — they have recognized that they have a problem:

Los Angeles Times: Surrendering to political reality, House Republican leaders did an about-face and said they were willing to extend a payroll tax cut for 160 million working Americans without insisting that it be paid for with spending cuts.

The dramatic shift Monday was an effort by Republicans to get past an issue on which President Obama and his Democratic allies had roundly attacked them since December. Polls have indicated that the Republicans have suffered considerable damage from Obama’s assertion that they were blocking a tax break for the middle class.

Substantively, the result could mean that average working Americans will continue to receive an extra $20 a week in their paychecks uninterrupted through the end of the year. A vote on the GOP proposal could come as soon as this week, just days before the tax break is set to expire Feb. 29.

Politically, the Republican retreat means that Obama will have scored a big win on his top legislative priority for the year.

But even if their leaders were to attempt a course correction in order to preserve their majority in November, there’s no evidence yet that the extreme right-wing factions in the House will cooperate. If they opt not to, it will put Speaker John Boehner in the awkward position of having to do what speakers have routinely done in the past and compromise with the opposing party and pass centrist-oriented legislation.

This would also be a signal that the speaker has accepted the reality reflected in polling that the same swing voters who voted for the tea party in 2010 are disenchanted with them now. Democrats only need 25 seats to retake control of the House — and in California alone projections are that at least five of the state’s 17 Republican House seats will flip to Dems this year.

On the other hand, if the tea partyists in the House are on board with their leadership in compromising with the Democrats, the question becomes, is it too little too late. With polls showing approval of Congress at 10 percent and under, it may just be too late for a course correction this year.

One comment

  • February 15, 2012 - 6:19 am | Permalink

    What has struck me about this story in the press is that no one used the word, “caved” to describe the Republicans. If Obama had come up with a “course correction” that’s the only word both our side and theirs would have used.

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