previously wrote how the Republican Party's refusal to agree to extend the payroll tax cut for another year as long as Democrats insist on paying for it with a surtax on income of more than $1 million would have provided a perfect illustration of the stark difference between the two parties. But the Democrats dropped the surtax in an effort to get the Republicans to agree on the tax cut extension. Republicans, of course, still refuse to budge.
Basically, Republicans in Congress are mean-spirited, unprincipled, greedy, out-of-touch nihilists. They could care less about jobs or deficits. They don't care about the planet. They don't care about governing, really, except when it comes to protecting the 1%. Democrats may evince more concern for working people and non-working people but they are too ineffectual to be of much use. Since it doesn't matter to Republicans whether the government shuts down, whether the unemployed continue to get benefits or whether the middle class get a tax cut, they can make outrageous demands knowing that Democrats will eventually cave.
True to form, the Democrats compromise on the payroll tax cut extension by letting go of their key demand -- the surtax on millionaires. The Republicans first say that doesn't count as a compromise since Republicans were never going to agree to it anyway. Then they insist on their key demand -- that any payroll tax extension must be tied to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, and refuse to back down.
As Steve Benen asks and then answers: "Are Republican leaders seriously taking the position that taxes should
go up for 160 million Americans unless they get the Keystone XL
pipeline? Yes, that’s pretty much the GOP position." (Putting aside the devastating impact to the environment, the pipeline, contrary to the Republican claims, would create few jobs. As ThinkProgress reports, "the only independent analysis into the pipeline found that just 500 to 1400 temporary construction jobs will be created, 'with a negative long-term economic impact.'”)
And the Democrats' response?
UPDATE: "Senate leaders have agreed to a plan that will prevent key policies,
including a two percent payroll tax cut for employees, from lapsing on
January 1, 2012, according to top aides. But the agreement will only
extends the measures for two months, setting Democrats and Republicans
up to relitigate this same fight fight early next year. And it comes at a
political cost to Democrats who were forced to relent on a provision
forcing President Obama to take a public position on the Keystone XL oil