No one disagrees at this point that the politics of the payroll tax stand-off is awful for Republicans. But in the midst of that realization there is chatter from folks at the Journal and a lot of flotsamy pundits to the effect that it is a dramatic political failure that Republicans have managed to make President Obama into the champion of tax cuts for average Americans.To say that it is a stunning political failure suggests that the impression is wildly out of line with objective reality. But that’s not true. The President has been pushing middle and lower-middle class tax relief as the most viable (at least the most politically viable) path for stimulus. He’s redoubled on it in the last six months. But it was actually a major part of his original stimulus bill that passed with no Republican support in the House and virtually none in the Senate. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have been pushing a mix of budget cutting and tax cuts for high income voters. And they still are.
There’s nothing surprising about this. This is and has been a big focus of the President’s. Republicans have either ignored it or actively opposed it. They’ve just got it down to a pivot where it’s really obvious who is blocking it. It’s just reality. There’s nothing clever about it.