House Speaker John Boehner needs a way out of the corner he's boxed into with the extension of the payroll tax cut. Right now, it's Speaker Boehner on one side, and President Obama, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Democrats and an unknown number of House Republicans on the other.
Among them is Republican Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, who's calling for a vote on the Senate's two-month extension. Another is Republican Congressman Rick Crawford of Arkansas, who just posted a letter saying his constituents "are angry and they don't understand why Congress cannot sit down, hammer out our differences, and come up with a solution we can all support." The letter is headlined "Crawford to Boehner: Let's Compromise." (H/t Luke Russert)
One of the rules of negotiating is that you have to let the other side save face -- let them look like they got a win, too. Kelly O'Donnell points to a tweet just now from Congressman Boehner that gives the slightest-maybe-possible hint of one way that could happen. In the tweet, Speaker Boehner points out a problem with the Senate's two-month extension for the payroll tax cut, since businesses file taxes every three months. Could that be an opening, a shift from a two-month deal to one for three months? Mr. Boehner followed that with a second tweet calling the Senate' two-month bill "unworkable," and a third one demanding an extension for a full year.
Still, if Mr. Boehner can say he salvaged the tax cut for working families and helped businesses, too, that might give him enough of a win.
UPDATE, MOMENTS LATER, from Kelly O'Donnell:
Democratic aides say they now expect the House would be ready to accept the two month Senate passed extension with some change, described as "a small technical correction."This would give Boehner the opportunity to say GOP leadership improved this package for the needs of small businesses regarding payroll accounting.Aides also expect Senator Reid will appoint negotiators to work on a one year extension as Boehner has publicly and repeatedly requested. Reid had said he would do that at a later date.GOP aide still saying resolution has not been reached.
So the change in the works appears to be not about two months or three months, but about Mr. Boehner getting something to help small businesses.
SECOND UPDATE, 5:15 PM, Speaker Boehner statement after the jump:
"Senator Reid and I have reached an agreement that will ensure taxes do not increase for working families on January 1 while ensuring that a complex new reporting burden is not unintentionally imposed on small business job creators. Under the terms of our agreement, a new bill will be approved by the House that reflects the bipartisan agreement in the Senate along with new language that allows job creators to process and withhold payroll taxation under the same accounting structure that is currently in place. The Senate will join the House in immediately appointing conferees, with instructions to reach agreement in the weeks ahead on a full-year payroll tax extension. We will ask the House and Senate to approve this agreement by unanimous consent before Christmas. I thank our Members - particularly those who have remained here in the Capitol with the holidays approaching - for their efforts to enact a full-year extension of the payroll tax cut for working families."