The Agreement on the Payroll Tax

John Boehner

To the Editor:

As “The House Backs Down” (editorial, Dec. 23) correctly points out, Democrats will have a much more difficult task facing them when negotiating the payroll tax extension for another 10 months.

But instead of omitting the tax-increase-for-millionaires provision from their bargaining position, President Obama and Congressional Democrats should make this an absolute deal-breaking position going forward.

Now that they have gained the high ground, and Speaker John A. Boehner has egg all over his face, Democrats must seize the moment and do what the vast majority of Americans want them to do: ensure that millionaires pay their fair share.

The president and the Democratic minority in the House have shown signs of growing backbones, and this is a true Christmas gift for all Americans.

New York, Dec. 23, 2011

To the Editor:

You are being unfair to House Republicans when you describe them as being obstructionist. On the contrary, they led a principled and honest attempt to do what most Americans would want: to extend the middle-class tax cuts for one year.

It is the Democrats (and Senate Republicans) and President Obama who were obstructionist. Did they really believe that a two-month extension would be better than an extension for one year? House Republicans had to agree because they did not want the tax cut to end on Jan. 1. That would have been political suicide.

Congress will waste valuable time rehashing the extension for a year when its members could be doing something else. This is not a “clear victory for President Obama.” It is another fiasco in the long line of fiascos that he and the Democrats have foisted on the American people.

Middletown, Conn., Dec. 23, 2011

To the Editor:

In the ninth inning of the payroll tax-unemployment benefits game, we perhaps saw the full panoply of back-room and voter-driven politics that describes the American version of democracy. We need more of both going forward.

There is nothing wrong with politics engaged in the back room, away from the madding crowd. Back-room negotiations often produce results — with luck, good ones.

But when that process breaks down, more transparency and public involvement are needed to move even the most obstructionist of politicians toward making government work. That is apparently part of what happened this time around.

This time, the president spoke out loud and clear, and reports are that constituents contacted their representatives to voice their displeasure with yet another stalemate.

Politicians must not forget to bring in their voters from the bench when needed, and voters must be ready. It is the only way to keep misguided minority interests from thinking that they completely rule the roost.

Sag Harbor, N.Y., Dec. 23, 2011

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