With another extension of the payroll tax cut looming on the congressional agenda, Republican lawmakers will soon have to decide whether they’re going to fight with President Obama and the Democrats over this issue.
The decision might hinge on a cold political reality.
Jonathan Chait EXPLAINS:
Like their counterparts from sixteen years before, Republicans took control of the House of Representatives last year filled with revolutionary zeal, assuming that they could leverage their hold over one branch of Congress into sweeping changes in the national agenda. And like their predecessors, they blundered into high-profile confrontations with a Democratic president and suffered prolonged and deep damage in their public standing, with each new defeat slowly leeching the fanatical determination out of them…
At their retreat last month, a pollster told House Republicans that their polling numbers had collapsed while Congressional Democrats have actually seen theirs improve.
The larger problem is that President Obama has rehabilitated his own political standing in large part by highlighting the opposition of congressional Republicans. The Republican strategy has been to block and delay Obama’s agenda at every turn, and Obama has absorbed most of the backlash from a public that tends to hold the president singularly responsible for all political outcomes. Obama’s campaign of publicly highlighting Republican opposition has simultaneously helped to absolve him of at least part of the blame and made him look more like a strong leader.