It was a key Democratic demand but party leaders abandoned a surtax on millionaires to finance a payroll tax holiday Wednesday night in return for, well, nothing, as of yet.
Yesterday, top Senate Democrats and President Obama met to consider dropping a 1.9 percent surtax on people earning more than $1 million per year and ultimately decided to abandon it. In response, Michael Steel, spokesman for House speaker John Boehner, told the AP "I don't think it's much of a concession. It never had any chance of passing the Senate, let alone the House."
Some analysts last week predicted that a concession to drop the surtax could be exchanged for the Republicans dropping a provision to fast-track the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline but Republicans gave no sign such a deal was in the works. Update: Still no progress on the outlines of a plan but Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell surprised reporters today telling the Senate floor they are close to reconciling their differences.
Instead of cutting a deal, Roll Call reports that Republicans are planning a parliamentary tactic to force Senate Democrats to vote on an omnibus spending bill preventing Republicans from compromising on the payroll tax package. Republicans would essentially bring the spending bill to the floor on Friday, daring Senate Democrats to oppose it with most parts of the government set to shutdown on Saturday. It's a little confusing but as Roll Call explains, it essentially amounts to this: "The move would be an attempt to undercut Democrats' strategy of refusing to formally sign off on the spending bill until Republicans and Democrats can reach agreement on an extension of President Barack Obama's payroll tax holiday."
The president would like to resolve the issue by Congress passing a short-term spending bill and working through Christmas break, which begins Friday, as Politico's Manu Raju and Jake Sherman report. "The White House put out a strongly worded statement Wednesday night calling on Congress to put off a mammoth $1 trillion government funding bill that Republicans had demanded as a condition for passing the payroll tax cut. Instead, the White House wants a short-term spending bill, an idea many Republicans have scoffed at."
Both parties have said it's important to pass a payroll tax break and it appears the American people agree. According to a new Associated Press-GfK survey, 58 percent of respondents say Congress should pass the tax holiday measure. "Nearly 6 in 10 respondents say they want Congress to pass the extension, according to the poll. Letting the payroll tax break expire would cost a family making $50,000 about $1,000," reports the AP.