In other last minute negotiations, it appears that the one year, temporary payroll tax cut will become a bit more permanent, at least for another year. This time, however, the Republicans apparently realized that the word “concession” doesn’t mean caving in to Democrats’ demands.
Congressional Democrats and the President seem to have forgotten that Social Security and Medicare are going broke. This forgetfulness has resulted in their demand that the one year payroll tax (which funds Social Security and Medicare) cut be extended for another year. The result will be to lower the amount of money collected by Social Security and Medicare by something like $123 billion next year, making both programs even less solvent.
Rather than hand the President a campaign issue, Republicans in the House have agreed to the extension, but only if the bill includes a provision that forces the President to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline within 60 days.
As you recall, in November, the administration decided that even after years of study, and, decisions by every administrative agency involved that the pipeline would not harm the environment, we should wait until 2013 to make a final decision.
The Keystone codicil is now being negotiated in the Senate, where at least eight Democrats have said publicly they hope the project goes forward: Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Lousiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
And, as of Friday evening, it appeared that this “deal” would be enacted. But, here is something curious.
Democrats were set to concede, in part because they believe the administration can find a way around the provision, if need be. [emphasis supplied]
Fascinating…Democrats believe the President can simply ignore the law. Of course he has already shown his willingness to do so if it will secure votes, (see: the Defense of Marriage Act), but this will hand the Republicans a campaign issue.
It will be interesting to see how this turns out.