The bill reportedly will be the same as the one the Senate passed with a large bipartisan majority, except for “a technical correction to the language designed to minimize difficulties businesses might experience implementing the short-term, two-month tax cut extension.” As part of the deal, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will appoint conference-committee members to negotiate away the differences between his chamber’s bill and the House version, which called for a full-year textension.
House Republicans made this more embarrassing than they had to, by not backing Speaker John Boehner’s reported pledge to pass the two-month extension in the first place. They had a victory in hand with the agreement by the Senate and President Obama — who’d originally threatened a veto — to include a provision speeding up the approval process of the Keystone XL pipeline. Having already conceded the debate about whether a temporary tax cut is economically effective, they should have realized the issue was pure politics, booked that victory, and not risked spoiling it.
Assuming all goes off without a hitch, we’ll see who holds the political high ground when the debate turns to extending the holiday for the rest of 2012. After all, that — holding the political high ground — is all this exercise was really ever about. When congressional leaders wait until the weeks before Christmas to decide what to do about taxes in the new year, incompetence and lack of actual concern for taxpayers abound.
P.S. — I’ll update this post with further details as warranted.
– By Kyle Wingfield