Video: Boehner: Two months extension ‘nonsense’

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    >>> the senate has passed a short-term extension of the payroll tax cut, but the measure is now facing strong opposition from some rank and file republicans in the house , leaving final passage in doubt. that is where we begin this morning with our exclusive guest, the speaker of the house , john boehner . mr. spoker, welcome back.

    >> david. good to be here.

    >> so, what's going to happen?

    >> well, it's pretty clear that i, and our members, oppose the senate bill . it's only for two months. you know, the president said we shouldn't go on vacation until we get our work done. and frankly, house republicans agree. we passed a one-year extension of the payroll tax credit, unemployment insurance with reforms, making sure that those doctors who treat medicare patients are not going to see their reimbursements cut. we had a reasonable responsible bill that we sent over to the senate . and, you know, if you talk to employers, they talk about the uncertainty. how can you do tax policy for two months? so, we really do believe it's time for the senate to work with the house , to complete our business for the year. we've got two weeks to get this done. let's do it the right way.

    >> so you're suggesting start over, make this a one-year extension, should the senate start from scratch?

    >> no. what i'm suggesting is this, the house has passed its bill. now the senate has passed its bill. and, you know, under the constitution, when we have these disagreements, there could be a formal conference between the house and senate to resolve our differences. but our members really do believe, we have to do our work. the president said we shouldn't be going on vacation without getting our work done. let's get our work done, let's do this for a year. and earlier this week, both the house and senate , in a bipartisan, bicamperal way, funded our government through september 30th . we did it in a regular process, regular order, and what the regular order here is a formal conference between the house and senate .

    >> but it's important to reiterate, as speaker of the house , you are opposed to this senate bill , to this compromise.

    >> i believe that two months is just kicking the can down the road. the american people are tired of that. frankly, i'm tired of it. on the house side we've seen this kind of action before coming out of the senate . it's time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences, and extend this for one year.

    >> well, but --

    >> every move is uncertainty.

    >> resolving differences is about the hardest thing to do, it seems, in washington, and it's been that way all year long. what do you give? where do you compromise in order to get the votes to extend this for a year?

    >> oh, i think if you look at the house -passed bill, we did everything the president asked for. we had a couple of policies that we believed would help create jobs in america. things like the keystone pipeline , pulling back some regulations on boilers, but we paid for this, offset it, with reasonable reductions in spending. 90% of those reductions, frankly, the president agrees with. and so we can -- we can find common ground. it's just the usual, let's just punt. kick the can down the road, we'll come back and do it later.

    >> but you won't accept kicking this off until february. you want to get it done now?

    >> i think we should do it all right now.

updated 12/18/2011 5:33:00 PM ET 2011-12-18T22:33:00

The Senate’s two-month payroll tax extension is dead on arrival in the House. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, made that perfectly clear Sunday morning as he said that Congress will have to negotiate a deal closer to the House-passed one-year extension  before members leave for the holidays.

“Well, it’s pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill – it’s only for two months,” Boehner said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “If you talk to employers, they talk about the uncertainty. How can you do tax policy for two months?”

Boehner’s comments came a day after a conference call among House members in which even seasoned moderate Republicans joined the roster of tea party-inspired freshman in vehemently opposing the bill. Or, as one senior House GOP aide put it, "If you're a fan of the Senate bill, the situation is not good. That will never pass and almost no one in the conference wants it."

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The widespread loathing for the bill is driven by both legislative and political concerns. 

Republicans believe as a matter of policy that a two-month extension creates the very kind of economic uncertainty they have railed against for nearly three years; they have no interest in keeping taxpayers and Medicare-participating doctors on edge, wondering if the policy will be extended in two months.

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House GOP members also know the bill wouldn’t play out well for them politically, House GOP sources said. They see themselves getting crushed by a short-term outcome now and continued finger-wagging from Obama on extending the payroll tax cut, which would allow Democrats to appear more aggressive on tax cuts than Republicans, House GOP sources said.

And it’s no secret the American Medical Association opposes the two-month "doc fix" to protect doctors from a scheduled 27 percent cut in reimbursements for Medicare beneficiaries – a scenario that would create intense lobbying pressure until February, something House Republicans want to avoid.

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And while it is frequently asserted the House GOP problem is between Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., a more insidious tug-of-war appears to be the culprit in this case. Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. – usually closely aligned, as in the case of the debt-ceiling debacle this summer – are apparently at odds over the end-of-year package. Boehner never signaled to McConnell in their private talks last week that he would accept the two-month deal being negotiated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, aides said.

Boehner is now confronting a very real sense among rank-and-file House Republicans that McConnell either rolled Boehner or treated the House bill so dismissively in the end-game negotiations that the House GOP must rebel to assert its legislative power and preferences.

Rather than pass the Senate bill – which President Obama embraced Saturday -- Congress should assemble a formal joint House-Senate conference to hash out a deal in regular order, Boehner said Sunday.

Senate negotiators reach deal on payroll tax
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“We’ve got to two weeks to get this done,” Boehner said. “Let’s do it the right way.”

Going into those negotiations, House Republicans are determined not to forfeit what they see as a huge concession from Senate Democrats: the decision to drop the millionaire surtax as the means of financing the payroll tax cut extension. They don't want to give that up now after having remained unified and winning it, despite intense and at times unnerving political heat.

A senior House GOP aide familiar with the emerging strategy and ever-rising rank-and-file antipathy to the Senate bill summarized the situation:

"We have to get out of the cul-de-sac of the Senate only being able to produce the lowest common denominator and then trying to force a terrible product on the House," the aide said. "Our members are fed up with that and are ready to have a fight if that's what it takes to get a good product."

Senate OKs short-term extension of payroll tax cut

Boehner on Sunday suggested that compromise shouldn’t be difficult to reach, the historical record of this Congress notwithstanding.

“I think if you look at the House-passed bill, we did everything the president asked for,” Boehner said. “We paid for this, offset it with reasonable reductions in spending. Ninety percent of those reductions, frankly, the president agrees with.”

Asked if they could reach a compromise on the extension package by Christmas, the Speaker responded, “How about tomorrow?”

The article "Boehner: House Opposes Senate Payroll Tax Bill" first appeared in the National Journal.

Copyright 2012 by National Journal Group Inc.


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