Nancy Pelosi Is Talking Smack

The Democratic leader says her party has the GOP boxed in on the extension of the payroll tax cut.

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Nancy Pelosi sounds awfully confident about the Democrats' plan for extending the current break on the payroll tax for workers who earn less than $1 million, and for getting it done without all the other elements Republicans want to shoehorn into the bill.

In an extended interview with TPM on Friday, the House minority leader talked some trash. The Republicans will need some Democratic votes if they want to pass an extension of the tax break, she said, since some Republicans won't vote for a new tax expenditure under any circumstances. And Republican leaders want some version of an extension to pass — the tax break is popular, and some economists have said it would be a boon to the struggling economy. (Others aren't so sure.)

So Republicans should quit trying to tack on unrelated issues, like approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which was offered by Republican leadership as a sweetener to members who are resistant to voting for the extension of the tax holiday. They need to just get the bill done, Pelosi said.

“It is really a stalling tactic,” Pelosi said of recent reports that Republicans want to use the lapsing tax cut as leverage to pass key GOP priorities, including construction of a major oil pipeline from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, and rolling back Obama’s health care law. “It’s unworthy of the needs of the American people for them to go all around the mulberry bush with this stuff. If they want to do something for the American people — to remove the uncertainty as to whether these payroll tax cuts will be extended, whether [unemployment insurance] will be extended … let’s just get about doing it.”

“They know that this stuff isn’t going to fly, that the President’s not going to sign it — so why are they doing this,” Pelosi says. “It’s about votes at the end of the day, and some of their people are never going to vote for anything, so they’re going to need our votes, we’re going to have to work together, and they’re going to need the President’s signature — and they’re going to need it to pass the Senate.”

There are signs of serious divisons within the Republican Party about extending the tax holiday, The Wall Street Journal reports.

House Speaker John Boehner "met stiff resistance" in a closed-door meeting when he urged his caucus members to support extending the payroll tax holiday, The Journal reports.

GOP leaders are wary of ending a popular tax break amid a weak economy, but many of the party's rank-and-file doubt its effectiveness and are concerned about short-term tinkering with the tax code. The split marks a change from a year in which Republicans were generally united and held the upper hand on budget issues.

The debate centers on a temporary, two-percentage-point cut in the tax wage earners pay to fund Social Security. It was enacted as a part of an anti-recession package last year and expires Dec. 31. Leaders of both parties have proposed an extension, arguing it would be bad economic policy—and bad politics—to allow taxes to go up as the economy struggles.

Democrats find the tax debate providing a long-sought political advantage.. "[Republicans] are totally disoriented right now," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), "because they are not used to being on the losing side of a tax debate."

And that may be why Barack Obama is using his Man of the People voice so readily on this issue. In this respect, if only this one, his party has the Republicans on the run.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.