rejected yesterday and agreed to today? That it is possible for Democrats to stick together, seize the narrative and explain that the Republicans do not have the best interests of the majority in mind–and for the Republicans to give in. How about that. Not a bad end-of-year lesson. Can the Democrats apply this victory, however temporary, to other issues as they head into 2012?
Under the deal, the employee’s share of the Social Security payroll tax will stay at the current level, 4.2 percent of wages, through Feb. 29. In the absence of Congressional action, it would revert to the usual 6.2 percent next month. The government will also continue paying unemployment insurance benefits under current policy through February. Without Congressional action, many of the long-term unemployed would begin losing benefits next month.
In addition, under the agreement, Medicare will continue paying doctors at current rates for two months, averting a 27 percent cut that would otherwise occur on Jan. 1.
...In the end, the agreement seemed a clear victory for Mr. Obama and the Democrats — at least for now. They managed to change the narrative from one about Mr. Obama making a concession and agreeing to a provision in the bill to speed the approval process for an oil pipeline to one about stonewalling House Republicans, who have spent much of the year holding the upper hand of divided government.
Democrats have been quick to exploit the issue. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this week unleashed automated phone calls, some of which were recorded by the Democratic strategist James Carville, in the districts of 20 targeted House Republicans.
The onslaught will continue. “This is a defining moment,” said the head of the committee, Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York. “This by itself doesn’t necessarily alter the political landscape, but the chronic chaos and repeated extremism will help us win back the House.”