You’d have to be one heck of a purist to turn down a thousand bucks from Uncle Sam in the form of a payroll tax cut extension just because it might swell the deficit a little. After all, the deficit is some abstract, imaginary thing like the monster that lives under your bed, while we’re talking real money, here. Free money. You can use it to buy food, a couple of iPads, or a mess of lotto tickets⎯which is the only retirement plan many Americans have left these days.
We taxpayers are a little weary of bending over backwards to bail out financial institutions and make sure their executives have a happy holiday, so it’s about time we got a piece of the action, paltry as it may be.
At least, this is the argument that’s giving pragmatic Republicans fits. It’s that stark. No amount of fiscally conservative dogma spouted by freshman tea party congressmen is going to convince the average voter that the GOP isn’t willing to bring the country to the brink of bankruptcy to protect the high-rollers while giving the middle class the high-hat.
Elections are won and lost over simple, easy-to-understand issues, and it doesn’t get any simpler than this. The same voter who worried two years ago that the country was being sold out by the foreign-born socialist pretender is going to be fighting mad when his paycheck suddenly shrivels, and he’s going to be looking for a scapegoat.
The only hope the Republicans have now is that the Democrats are historically so deft at blowing an advantage that they won’t pull their motley ranks into a coherent front with a concise message in time for the next election.
I wouldn’t want to bet my job on it, Congressman.