Senate Democrats

“Mass Defections” Expose Republican Opposition To Middle Class Tax Cuts

Defections Give The Lie To McConnell’s Assurance That “Republicans Will Put Aside Their Misgivings And Support This Extension”

Acknowledging that Republican opposition to middle-class tax cuts was untenable, Republican leaders spent this week trying to convince the world that they supported middle-class tax cuts:

Cantor: “You Aren’t A Republican” If You Vote Against Payroll Tax Cut Extension. According to the Hill, “During the closed-door meeting Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) urged rank-and-file members to support the extension, saying it was necessary for a party that historically opposes tax increases, a leadership aide said. Cantor told members that ‘taxes are a Republican issue and you aren’t a Republican if you want to raise taxes on struggling families to fund bigger government,’ according to a source in the room.” [The Hill, 11/30/11]

Boehner: “If You Guys Think That Not Extending the Payroll Tax Cut Is Politically Advantageous, You’ve Got to Be Kidding Yourself.” According to Roll Call, “House Republican leaders bluntly warned their Members on Wednesday that opposing an extension to a popular payroll tax cut is politically unsustainable. According to a Republican source in the GOP’s weekly conference meeting Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) told his conference that ‘if you guys think that not extending the payroll tax cut is politically advantageous, you’ve got to be kidding yourself.’” [Roll Call, 11/30/11]

McConnell: “Republicans Are Going To Put Aside Their Misgivings And Support This Extension.” McConnell also said, “There’s a lot of sentiment in our conference, clearly a majority sentiment, for continuing the payroll tax relief that we enacted a year ago in these tough times.” [CQ, 11/28/11]

But last night, a majority of Senate Republicans bucked McConnell, voting against the Republican plan and exposing their true colors: Republicans want to give tax breaks to millionaires, but not the middle class.

Washington Post: “In A Surprising Turn, More Republicans Voted Against The GOP Plan Than In Favor Of It.” “All but a handful of Democrats voted in favor of their party’s proposal, but in a surprising turn, more Republicans voted against the GOP plan than in favor of it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted this week that a majority of his conference would vote for the party’s plan to extend the payroll tax cut. The vote suggests that rank-and-file Republicans remain divided on the merits of keeping the tax cut, leaving their party vulnerable to criticism from Democrats that they would raise taxes on the middle class as Americans are struggling economically.” [Washington Post, 12/2/11]

Politico: “Mass Defections Reflect The Payroll Extension’s Unpopularity Among Rank-And-File Republicans.” “The mass defections reflect the payroll extension’s unpopularity among rank-and-file Republicans, even as GOP leaders move to make the Obama proposal more palatable to their caucus and block Democrats from seizing the mantle of the tax-cutting party. The divided conference also portends how difficult it will be for Speaker John Boehner to move a payroll tax cut extension through his chamber without significant Democratic backing… [A] surprising number of Republicans defected from their party’s proposal – 26 in total, despite comments from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week that the GOP would support a payroll tax cut extension.” [Politico, 12/2/11]

Reuters: “Republican Ambivalence Toward Any Extension of the Payroll Tax Cut Was Evident” “Republican ambivalence toward any extension of the payroll tax cut was evident in the Senate as a majority of the party’s 47 senators voted against the Republican plan.” [Reuters, 12/2/11]

New York Times: Republicans Leaders “Struggle”, in “Political Bind” “Republican leaders’ struggle this week to find a strategy that could unite their party reflected the political bind it is in. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans said the policies of Republicans in Congress favored the rich, a New York Times/CBS News poll found in October.” [NY Times, 12/2/11]

Wall Street Journal: Republican Leaders “Fear The Politics Of Allowing A Tax Increase To Hit Virtually All Wage-Earners” “The vote suggests a disconnect between Republican leaders of both houses, who fear the politics of allowing a tax increase to hit virtually all wage-earners on Jan. 1, and many rank-and-file Republicans, who say the payroll-tax cut doesn’t create jobs and oppose short-term tweaks to the tax code.” [WSJ, 12/2/11]

Associated Press: Vote “Exposed Rare Divisions Among Senate Republicans” “But in a vote that exposed rare divisions among Senate Republicans, more than two dozen of the GOP’s 47 lawmakers also voted to kill an alternative plan backed by their leader, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to renew an existing 2 percentage point payroll tax cut.” [AP, 12/2/11]

Los Angeles Times: “Deep Resistance” Within GOP to Payroll Tax Cuts.  “Both bills met with GOP opposition, illustrating deep resistance within the ranks despite party leaders’ efforts to coalesce around the politically volatile issue.” [LA Times, 12/2/11]

The vote was a rejection of McConnnell’s effort to corral his caucus – Sen. Thune Called Republican Proposal “The Right Way” Minutes Before Voting Against It:

Thune Called The Republican Proposal “The Right Way” “There is a right way and wrong way to do this. This is the wrong way in the Democratic proposal. The Republican proposal is the right way.” [Floor Speech, 12/1/11]

…Minutes Before Thune Voted Against The Republican Plan. [Roll Call Vote 220, 12/1/11]