Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Stupid Wins the News Cycle

Based on what I'm told, the House Republicans are getting their butts kicked because they refuse to pass a temporary 60-day extension of the payroll tax cut, which the Democrats in the Senate apparently prefer.

There's a good reason for that opposition, which is the cost a temporary fix would impose on anyone responsible for dealing with payroll taxes:

"People need to realize what the Senate did, and kind of in a hasty way, they did something that is going to cause a lot of problems. By only extending the tax cut for 60 days, that's going to cause a lot of problems mechanically for businesses to implement it," the 57-year-old Mr. Gibbs said.

Employers who file tax paperwork on a quarterly basis, he said, will have to fill out payroll withholding forms twice, he said. "At least they should have made it for 90 days for the quarter. It's not workable."

The Senate over the weekend approved a bipartisan compromise, backed by President Obama, to extend the payroll-tax cut for just two months, while the GOP-dominated House approved its own bill for a 12-month extension. The tax cut will expire Jan. 1 if the two chambers cannot reach an agreement.

Emphasis mine. The Gibbs quoted here is a Republican congressman from Ohio, by the way. What he's saying is true -- payroll withholding is done on a quarterly basis and if the rates change, that means a lot of extra work recalculating things. For a small business, the time spent dealing with a midstream change is time they will not spend on their business. It might not seem like much, but in the aggregate such things add up.

As always, the problem is that (a) Republicans are terrible at explaining things; and (b) even if they explain things competently, there's an even money chance the MSM will not let the message get across. And taken together, (a) and (b) are why so many of us blog.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

a) and b) together may be the reason many blog. They are also the reason why I would want to punch reporters in the nose if ever I condescended to watch their rubbish anymore.

Anonymous said...

Picklesworth, why does A) Republicans are terrible at explaining things. - make you want to punch reporters in the face? I guess I am not following your logic. My guys suck, so I wanna hit people?

Your joke of a Congressional Caucus walked into a buzz saw on this one, and have set themselves up to revisit the buzz saw whn they get back from break. You guys can blame others all you want, but the 2 month extension grew out of negotiations from both sides, and the fact is, this was not only a disaster for your was also a huge missed opportunity: a chance to talk up the reality of Social Security: the fact that the Social Security Trust Fund is a gimmick, and that the Soc Sec retirement system could be paid for out of general revenues.

Instead, the Republicans made themselves look weak, their leadership ineffectual and disorganized, and worst of all, more interested in trying to destroy the President than lift a finger to do anything to help the middle class. On a purely political level...thank you! It was a nice Christmas gift.


Mr. D said...


Hard to argue with much of that. In Picklesworth's defense, he's making a larger point about how the reportage is relentlessly stacked to make Republicans look bad. It is a source of perpetual frustration for conservatives.

Of course, as you correctly point out, they made it pretty easy to look bad in this instance.

The one good thing that comes out of it is that, for really the first time in my memory, we're talking about FICA withholding as what it actually is, a tax. And your point about general revenue is correct, too -- it would be a lot more honest than pretending there's a lock box or somesuch.

Merry Christmas, good sir!