If you're the Speaker of the House, it's your job to set your party's agenda and get your caucus on board for it. How then did we go from a supposed deal for a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut for working families to another race against the clock in Washington?Speaker John Boehner told Meet the Press yesterday:
It's pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill. . . . If you talk to employers, they talk about the uncertainty. How can you do tax policy for two months?
We got here, at least in part, because Mr. Boehner does not have the consent of his caucus. For starters, the New York Times notes, conservative Republicans aren't all that fired up about preserving lower taxes for working families. Nor do they see the point in lining up behind Speaker Boehner. The Times cites
a well-established pattern of House conservatives undermining Mr. Boehner’s efforts to reach bipartisan compromises on a variety of fiscal matters. In July, Mr. Boehner and Mr. Obama were close to reaching a large deficit-reduction agreement but retreated when it became clear that the most conservative House Republicans would not agree to new revenue measures like increasing the income tax paid by the wealthy.
Remember this fall, when Mr. Boehner's caucus balked over cuts for FEMA that weren't big enough? Remember the headlines in the Washington Post and the New York Times about the caucus rebuking the leadership? Here's to betting Mr. Boehner remembers.