Category Archives: McConnell

Rest and Repair: ACA and market stabilization

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) might have wished for a kinder, gentler, headline from the Reno Gazette Journal, but he got this one: “After weeks of waffling, Heller votes ‘yes’ on failed ‘skinny repeal’ of Obamacare.”  Rest assured, he’s promised to work on health insurance reform as part of his duties on the Senate Finance Committee.   This would be as good a time as any for him to demonstrate his knowledge of the insurance sector.

Heller Plays the Bail Out Card: Game One 

Let’s track back a couple of paces in time to review how Senator Heller presented his ‘moderate’ credentials on economic concerns.  While Nevada was in the throes of the Great Recession brought on by the Wall Street Casino machinations, Senator Heller was touting his opposition to the Dodd-Frank Act to insert some common sense regulation of the banking industy, casting it as follows: “Heller mentioned he was the only member of the Nevada delegation to vote against the bank bailout. He called the Dodd-Frank bank regulation bill “cover for those who voted for the bank bailout.”  In short,  that “cover” was the regulation of some of the practices that caused the collapse of the investment banks in the United States.  Senator Heller calculated that the use of the phrase “bailout” would be sufficiently negative to thoroughly obscure his support for the deregulation of the banking sector and the Wall Street Casino players therein.  There’s little reason to doubt he’ll try this play again in 2018.

McConnell Tees Up the Bail Out Card: Game Two

After the “skinny bill” failed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell provided the framework for the next time Senator Heller might want to play the Bail Out card:

“Now, I think it’s appropriate to ask, what are their ideas? It’ll be interesting to see what they suggest as the way forward. For myself I can say — and I bet I’m pretty safe in saying for most on this side of the aisle — that bailing out insurance companies with no thought of any kind of reform is not something I want to be part of. And I suspect there are not many folks over here that are interested in that. But it’ll be interesting to see what they have in mind.”  (emphasis added)

If Senator Heller didn’t mind obfuscating the purpose of the Dodd Frank Act (by calling it a bail out), he’ll certainly not mind playing the same game with the attempts to improve our health insurance system.  It would be very tempting for him to try this play one more time to cover his opposition to the very proposals that would stabilize the individual health care insurance markets in this country.  For the record, I’m assuming that if a proposal helps an insurance corporation, then Senator Heller will be sure to call it a “bail out.”   Or, in the immortal words of President George W. Bush, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on…shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.’

Making Mountains from Mole Hills

There are justifiable questions about the stability of the individual health insurance market, but before we launch major proposals in this direction it’s important to note that for all the palaver about the collapse, demise, descent or whatever of the Affordable Care Act, that individual market has been stabilizing on its own.  The Kaiser Family Foundation released its report on this market:

“Large premium increases, typically granted by state regulators, in 2017 contributed to the improved financial performance, as insurers adjusted for a sicker-than-expected risk pool, the analysis finds. However, data on hospitalizations suggest that the risk pool was not getting progressively sicker as of 2017, supporting the notion that the large increases were necessary as a one-time market correction.

Slow growth in claims for medical expenses also played a role in insurers’ financial improvements, according to the analysis.”

So far so good, but there are issues to be faced.

“Although the analysis finds the market is stabilizing, it notes that ongoing uncertainty over payment of cost-sharing subsidies to insurers and enforcement of the individual mandate could lead insurers to leave the market or charge higher premiums in 2018.”

We can now safely assert that when Senator McConnell (and perhaps Senator Heller) speak of “bailing out” insurance companies they may be referring to proposals to provide more certainty to the insurance corporations that the administration will, in fact, make good on those promises to come through with cost-sharing subsidies.  That’s truly stretching the definition of a bail out, but it may prove a highly convenient hook on which to hang Republican rhetoric.

The previous post mentioned the Three R’s — risk adjustment, risk corridors, and reinsurance.  Here’s one proposal for the last on the list:

“Senator Kaine and Senator Tom Carper of Delaware on Wednesday introduced legislation to create a reinsurance program to help insurers offset the cost of covering older, less healthy customers. That type of program—which provides payments to insurers that enroll high-cost individuals—was originally part of Obamacare until it expired last year, and Republican legislators in Minnesota and Alaska have embraced the idea as a way to stabilize insurance markets in those states. “That’s something that should have some bipartisan appeal,” Kaine said. [Atlantic]

Reinsurance was in place until 2016 in order to ease any problems with corporations insuring a high number of risky policy holders, such as those with pre-existing medical conditions.  Re-establishing it would serve the same stabilization purposes today.   The Kaiser Family Foundation provides an explanation of risk adjustment and risk corridors which don’t require an MBA to understand. Neither of these constitute any form of “bail out.”

Conflation Projection 

Conflation is too often a vehicle for obfuscation.  For example, one of the Republican objections to the ACA continues to be the incantation: Socialized Medicine!  There’s no hint of socialized medicine in the ACA, it’s a full bore market based system of encouraging  affordable health insurance policies sold by PRIVATE companies to PRIVATE CONSUMERS for use to pay PRIVATE HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS.  However, this doesn’t prevent Republicans from speculating on the ulterior motives of Democratic advocates of expanding access to affordable health insurance policies.

“Soon, they’ll want a public option!” And, then they’ll want Single Payer…and there you have it Socialized Medicine.

Let’s stop here before the fog gets too thick, and explore other options for improving health care access in another post.

*Thanks to @Karoli and Mark Stufflebeam for suggestions and references. 

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Filed under Health Care, health insurance, Heller, McConnell, Medicare, nevada health, Politics

Let’s Review and Make Some Conjectures

Senator McConnell couldn’t have made himself more clear to the Republican leadership — let’s please have less drama from the White House so we can get along with our agenda.  Less tactfully phrased, McConnell and his myrmidons such as Representative Mark Amodei (NV2) and Senator Heller (R-NV) isn’t going to do anything about the dolt in the Oval Office until after they get what they want.  They want two things: (1) to return the control of the health insurance market back to the insurance companies; and (2) to dismantle the financial and consumer protections enacted in the Dodd Frank Act, and the Sarbanes Oxley Act.  Not sure about this, then please consider the current push for the Choice Act:

“At a time when too many hard-working American families are still recovering from the devastating impact of the 2008 financial crash, deregulating Wall Street’s biggest firms again makes no sense. Yet the Financial CHOICE Act threatens to do exactly that.

It would allow the biggest Wall Street banks to opt-out of significant financial protection rules, while those banks that remain in the regulatory system would be blessed with watered down versions of once-tough protections, like living wills and stress tests. Perhaps most worryingly, the CHOICE Act would cripple two of the most important post-crash reforms: the Financial Stability and Oversight Council (FSOC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).” [the Hill]

Review: The CFPB was the agency which brought to light, and then levied fines against Wells Fargo for egregious violations of their customers’ privacy and financial interests.  Little wonder the banks aren’t happy with those “bureaucrats.” Less wonder why the Republicans aren’t going to do anything about the President who had to fire his National Security Adviser — until the Choice Act is safely delivered to his desk.

We should also recall that the Republican version of the healthcare reform act is much less about health insurance reform than it is about bestowing tax cuts for the wealthiest among us, to the tune of close to $765 billion over the next ten years.  We can easily conjecture that the GOP will do nothing about the man in the office who fired the US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and then the emissary from the Department of Justice who warned him about the dangers presented by the presence of General Flynn.  At least nothing will be done, until the Republicans can cut Medicaid to the barest of bones:

His (Trump’s) promise would be violated by House GOP bill, as it seeks to freeze Medicaid expansion money for states in 2020 by withhold funding at the enhanced match rate for any new enrollees after that point. Other beneficiaries are at risk with the more long-term transformation that program stands to undergo under the GOP bill. The legislation would overhaul the program—now an unlimited federal match rate—into a per capita cap system, meaning that states would get a fixed amount of funding per enrollee. The Congressional Budget Office, analyzing an initial version of the legislation, predicted out of the 24 million Americans who would lose coverage under the earlier GOP bill compared to current law, 14 million were due to its changes to Medicaid. [TPM]

Given there is no CBO scoring on the current edition, we can’t be certain that States like Nevada which expanded Medicaid enrollment in order to make health care access affordable, won’t be left in the lurch — Congressman Amodei’s tortured logic to the contrary.  So, nothing is likely to be done about the executive who fired the Director of the FBI who was supervising the investigation of Russian meddling in our elections (and possible Trump connections to that meddling) until Medicaid cuts are also tucked into the President’s portfolio for a signing ceremony.

When will Republicans address the Leaker-in-Chief’s discussions with the Russian visitors to the White House?  Probably not until the budget cuts to the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, Medicare, Health and Human Services, and the Department of Education come to fruition.  Do we have a situation in which the following is true?  If the Trumpian honeymoon isn’t over, it soon will be.

That sentiment was echoed by a prominent GOP consultant I spoke to who asked not to be named to offer a candid assessment of Trump and congressional Republicans.
“The question for Republicans is whether this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said the source. “Forty percent approval is not the issue; an erratic, rudderless, leaderless White House is.” [CNN]

The camel’s back may not bend until the Republicans have seen their agenda realized, their Randian Dreams made true, and their Austerity Government imposed on the American people.   The damage of this administration and the Republicans in Congress who enable and excuse him is only starting to come to fruition.

 

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Filed under Amodei, Comey, conservatism, corporate taxes, financial regulation, Health Care, health insurance, Heller, income tax, McConnell, Medicaid, nevada health, Nevada politics, Politics, public health

Short Shots: Race and other matters in America

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It has now been 190 days since Judge Merrick Garland was nominated for a position on the US Supreme Court.  This is the longest wait for any nominee, and the U.S. Senate has not even had the courtesy to hold a hearing on his nomination.  Senator Majority Leader McConnell has a very strange idea of what it means to do his job.  McConnell has also refused to schedule votes on two nominees for the federal bench who are African American, over Senator Cory Booker’s objections. [NorthJersey]  Partisanship and racial bias at play? Why else would a perfectly qualified nominee for the Supreme Court nominated by an African American president, and two African American district court nominees not get a vote?

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How’s this for a howler?

“Donald Trump’s campaign chair in a prominent Ohio county has claimed there was “no racism” during the 1960s and said black people who have not succeeded over the past half-century only have themselves to blame.

Kathy Miller, who is white and chair of the Republican nominee’s campaign in Mahoning County, made the remarks during a taped interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series of election videos.”

But Wait! Ms Miller wasn’t finished:

“Miller also dismissed the racial tensions of the 1960s, when she said she graduated from high school. “Growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me. We were just all kids going to school.”

Asked about segregation and the civil rights movement, she replied: “I never experienced it. I never saw that as anything.”

Miller added: “I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this … Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.” [Guardian]

This from quite possibly the most self referential self absorbed individual available for the County Trump Campaign committee?

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Let’s put this canard to rest – there is NO widespread voter fraud; there isn’t even any widespread potential for voter impersonation fraud.

      • “Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a longtime proponent of voter suppression efforts, argued before state lawmakers that his office needed special power to prosecute voter fraud, because he knew of 100 such cases in his state. After being granted these powers, he has brought six such cases, of which only four have been successful. The secretary has also testified about his review of 84 million votes cast in 22 states, which yielded 14 instances of fraud referred for prosecution, which amounts to a 0.00000017 percent fraud rate.” [Brennan Center]

That isn’t statistically significant in any rational analysis, so let’s just call this what it is – a fraudulent campaign to reduce the number of legitimate Democratic voters.

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Representative Joe Heck (R-NV3) is still running to be Division commander, with an ad that compares himself going to “put his boots in the sand with soldiers” while Cortez Masto took “vacation days.”  All 174 of them in eight years.  If we were being tacky we could say Heck was paid for those 460 days he was deployed – so it was at taxpayer expense, but we’re not being tacky we’d just notice that he’s really dragging out the militarism for this campaign.   By the way, had Cortez Masto not attended national conferences he’d probably be whining she didn’t represent Nevada when she had the opportunity.

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Here’s a nice shot! Compliments of Astrid Silva – 795 new U.S. / Nevada citizens taking the oath at Cashman Field.  Welcome to America!

New Nevada Citizens Have a good day!

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Filed under Heck, McConnell, Nevada politics, Politics, racism, Republicans, Vote Suppression

On Our Way To Auctions Not Elections

On July 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm (Eastern) S. 3369 was successfully filibustered by the Republican minority in the United States Senate.   Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) cast a procedural “no” on cloture to allow for a possible re-introduction; Senator Dean Heller did not cast a vote.  S. 3369 is commonly known as the Disclose Act.

The core of the legislation is simple: (emphasis added)

`(1) IN GENERAL- Any covered organization that makes campaign-related disbursements aggregating more than $10,000 in an election reporting cycle shall, not later than 24 hours after each disclosure date, file a statement with the Commission made under penalty of perjury that contains the information described in paragraph (2)–

`(A) in the case of the first statement filed under this subsection, for the period beginning on the first day of the election reporting cycle and ending on the first such disclosure date; and

`(B) in the case of any subsequent statement filed under this subsection, for the period beginning on the previous disclosure date and ending on such disclosure date.
`(2) INFORMATION DESCRIBED- The information described in this paragraph is as follows:

`(A) The name of the covered organization and the principal place of business of such organization.

`(B) The amount of each campaign-related disbursement made by such organization during the period covered by the statement of more than $1,000, and the name and address of the person to whom the disbursement was made.

`(C) In the case of a campaign-related disbursement that is not a covered transfer, the election to which the campaign-related disbursement pertains and if the disbursement is made for a public communication, the name of any candidate identified in such communication and whether such communication is in support of or in opposition to a candidate.

`(D) A certification by the chief executive officer or person who is the head of the covered organization that the campaign-related disbursement is not made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, authorized committee, or agent of a candidate, political party, or agent of a political party.

`(E) If the covered organization makes campaign-related disbursements using exclusively funds in a segregated bank account consisting of funds that were paid directly to such account by persons other than the covered organization that controls the account, for each such payment to the account–

`(i) the name and address of each person who made such payment during the period covered by the statement;

`(ii) the date and amount of such payment; and

`(iii) the aggregate amount of all such payments made by the person during the period beginning on the first day of the election reporting cycle and ending on the disclosure date;

but only if such payment was made by a person who made payments to the account in an aggregate amount of $10,000 or more during the period beginning on the first day of the election reporting cycle and ending on the disclosure date.

There’s nothing all that complicated about the bill.  If an organization spends money on behalf of a candidate, the expenditure should be disclosed.  If a donor contributes more than $10,000 the donor should be disclosed.   There are NO special provisions for labor unions, there are no special provisions for the benefit of any special interest group.

And, the GOP successfully filibustered the bill., 51-44 with five not voting.   [roll call 179]

Senator Mitch McConnell, formerly an advocate of Disclosure saying it is “nothing less than an effort by the government itself to expose its critics to harassment and intimidation.”  [TP] Here’s a question: If one is a legitimate critic of the government then wouldn’t one’s advocacy be a badge of honor?

It was a dark day for democracy when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Citizens United that money = speech.  It is darker now that we can’t see where all that “speech” is coming from.

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Filed under 2012 election, McConnell, Politics, Reid

GOP Phil. E. Buster blocks pro-business bill

Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) made this comment on the Republican blockage of the Small Business Jobs and Relief Act:

“The legislation Republicans blocked was a common-sense proposal that provided small businesses with two tax cuts designed to create jobs. Under our proposal, small businesses would have received a 10 percent tax cut on the amount by which they increase their payrolls this calendar year. And to help them expand, small businesses would have been allowed to write off 100 percent of the cost of any major equipment or software they purchase.

“Unfortunately, Republicans played their usual games of obstruction and opposition. There was simply no reason to oppose this bill on the merits, so Republicans manufactured reasons to kill it out of thin air. Republicans claimed they wanted amendment votes, but refused to take ‘yes’ for an answer when I offered them votes on those very amendments.”

The bill was designed to help truly small businesses, those under the $500K cap to hire employees and purchase business assets and equipment.*

And, the Republicans successfully filibustered the bill. The motion to invoke cloture on S. 2237 went down on a 53-44 vote. [roll call 177]

This is what the Senate GOP rejected:

“Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act – Amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow certain employers a tax credit for 10% of the excess (if any) of: (1) the wages and compensation paid to their employees in 2012; over (2) the amount of such wages paid in 2011, up to a maximum amount of $5 million. Extends for one year the 100% bonus depreciation allowance for business assets. Increases the amount of alternative minimum tax (AMT) credits that corporate taxpayers may elect to accelerate in a taxable year in lieu of claiming bonus depreciation.”  [CRS]

Thus, if a business hired more employees in 2012 than they had in 2011 they’d be eligible for a 10% tax credit for the wages and compensation paid; AND, any business asset purchased could be written off in a single year.

A person doesn’t need to be an accountant to figure out that the last part is an exceptionally good deal.  Every computer, filing cabinet, vehicle, any economic resources. Anything tangible or intangible that is capable of being owned or controlled to produce value and that is held to have positive economic value, [Def] can be “written off.”

The first part of the picnic basket isn’t as stimulative as this second piece.  As has been expounded repeatedly herein, staffing and employment levels aren’t tied to tax incentives — it makes absolutely no business sense to hire employees one doesn’t need just to get a tax break.   Businesses hire people when current staffing levels are insufficient to meet demand or to provide an acceptable level of customer service.

However, if a business wants to get a real break — upgrade the computers your staff has been complaining about — you can write them off in a single year.  Purchase the new back-hoe, an additional truck, a new fork lift, get your construction company a new skip loader or trencher — depreciate it in a single year.    Need new shelving, workstations, desks, storage units, or new computer hardware for the business?  Buy’em and get the 100% bonus depreciation!   What does this do?

Allowing businesses to avail themselves of the 100% depreciation bonus could very easily spur DEMAND.  Increased demand means increased orders, and increased orders may very well mean a need for increased staffing.

And the Senate Republicans filibustered the bill.  WHY?

“Reid acted as the two parties could not agree exactly how to go about using the bill to vote on whether to extend the Bush tax cuts. […] Republicans favor extending the tax cuts, first enacted in 2001, for all income levels. President Obama has proposed extending them only for income less than $250,000, and using the higher tax revenue collected from higher incomes to help close the deficit.”  [WaPo]

Translation: The Senate Republican leadership blocked the small business bill because they wanted to protect the Bush Tax Cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

So, a 100% depreciation bonus for manufacturers, construction companies, accountancy firms, restaurants, drilling companies, retailers, grocery stores, furniture outlets, bakeries, bowling alleys, beauty and barber shops, landscape enterprises, law offices, doctor’s offices, automobile repair garages, photography studios, veterinary clinics, waste disposal companies, … was lost because the Senate GOP was focused on protecting the Bush Tax Cuts for millionaires and billionaires.  In a word? SAD.

—–

See also: “Fact Sheet: Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act,” Senate Democrats, March 26, 2012. Cohn, “Tax Cut Legislation Blocked in Senate,” Accounting Today, July 13, 2012. REMI, “Study on S. 2237, Regional Economic Models, Inc.

Previous posts on small business:  H.R. 5297, Small Business Jobs and Credit Act DB July 17, 2010.   Finally someone says it — Demand in the Job Creator, DB December 2, 2011. GOP A Thousand Times No, DB July 30, 2010.   Breaking the Closed Loop, DB April 29, 2011.   Republican Mythology – Small Business Facts and Fantasies, DB May 3, 2012. What’s a Small Business, DB July 16, 2012.  *Original post did not include the $500,000 cap.

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Filed under conservatism, corporate taxes, Economy, employment, Filibusters, McConnell, Politics, Reid, Taxation

The 112th Congressional Agenda

Via UTAustinLiberal:

Feel free to share.

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Filed under 2012 election, Boehner, Cantor, McConnell, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

A Capitol Crime? Tax on 1% Unacceptable, Tax on 99% OK?

The fight begins over the extension of the payroll tax cuts in the aftermath of the voting on December 1, 2011:

“Republicans proved tonight they are more interested in tax cuts for millionaires than tax cuts for the middle class. The legislation they blocked would have put $1,500 in the pockets of the average middle-class family in America and across Nevada next year. The bill was fully paid for by asking millionaires to pay just over three percent on their incomes above $1 million.

“Republicans spent this week trying to convince us that they support middle-class tax cuts, but tonight a majority of Senate Republicans voted against their own bill – calling into question whether they support middle-class tax cuts at all.

“I was encouraged to see one Republican join Democrats in asking millionaires to pay their fair share. But because every other Republican continues to insist on protecting millionaires, middle class families could face a $1,000 tax increase next year. Democrats will not stop fighting to avoid that outcome. I hope Republicans will decide that the economic security of hard-working Americans is more important than protecting the wealthiest one percent.”  — Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) December 1, 2011

One theme we’ve not heard from the broadcast media is “Republicans in Disarray,” although the commentary from House and Senate GOP leadership was calibrated to express support for the extension of the payroll tax cuts, but evidently not strong enough to secure the usual lock-step coordination seen in other Senate votes.

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, (December 1, 2011) 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]

Part of the disconnect may stem from the anti-government’s high priest, Grover Norquist who told House Republicans that voting against extending the payroll tax holiday (usually interpreted by the GOP as “raising taxes” when discussed in the context of the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts) is not really really really raising taxes.

OK, it’s clear now.  Allowing the Bush Tax Cuts, which predominantly benefit the 1%, to expire is “raising taxes,” but allowing for the extension of the payroll tax cuts, which benefits the other 99%,  is NOT.  [TP]

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Filed under Boehner, Heller, McConnell, Reid, Republicans