Thursday media coverage of the payroll tax cut extension coverage was at a fever pitch—even outlets that usually criticize Obama Administration rhetoric, goals, vision, and economic policy were calling out the partisan posturing from the House GOP caucus.
And while the media positives for Dems have sweetened their victory, the conservative pile on has been just as detrimental for Republicans. The Wall Street Journal editorial board excoriated House GOPers for achieving possibly the worst political result available.
“The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play,” they wrote. “Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter… This should be impossible.” The whole piece made the rounds yesterday in national publications, and the message was co-opted by cable news.
All it took was a little conflict. Democratic campaign staffers hear the “We’ve got to get our message out there!” refrain from grassroots activists all the time — but it’s not like Dems don’t talk up their tax cutting bonafides on the trail. The message needs a peg in order for the media to pay attention, and the Congressional fight provided it.
Republicans have been fairly successful at brinkmanship this year — Boehner famously admitted to getting “98 percent” of what he wanted in the debt ceiling compromise, the last deadline legislative leaders were up against. And when it comes to the 2012 campaign, the President was given the biggest boost on a message he’d already been pushing. Mr. Obama has struck as populist note over the last few months, starting with the public framing around the American Jobs Act, and the victory on the payroll tax cut extension pushes it forward.
So while a two month extension of a middle class tax [cut] (coupled with the all but sure conflict to come over the same policy in February
) may not seem earth shattering, it solidfies a theme in 2012 and creates an advantageous narrative for the President, and for the moment, Republicans are left wondering how they lost a home game on taxes.