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House Republicans managed to turn President Obama into a tax cutter in an election year while getting blamed for opposing something they'll probably pass anyway, The Wall Street Journal  complains in an editorial. "GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected," the Journal says. "Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest."  The editorial is, as they say in political media, driving the conversation the morning's conversation. But this week has turned out to be the most wonderful time of the year for Obama -- and maybe "the most advantageous political environment he’s seen since the earliest days of his administration," Politico's Glenn Thrush and Jennifer Epstein write. The White House press corps is suffering in Honolulu while it waits for Obama to arrive for Christmas vacation once he's done savoring the Republicans' political gift in Washington.

"I hope he doesn't blow this. I think he’s doing great so far, but he can’t take the boot off their neck," a senior Democratic aide told Politico. "The president couldn't have asked politically for a bigger gift at Christmastime than how these Republicans are behaving in the House," Democratic strategist Bob Shrum told them. And for the first time since the 2010 elections, Republican unity is cracking, The New York TimesMichael D. Shear writes. Several  Republican senators -- Dick Lugar, Scott Brown, John McCain, Dean Heller -- have said publicly that House Republicans screwed up. Brown said the House vote was "irresponsible and wrong," and McCain said it was "harming the Republican Party." Shear explains that senators up for reelection in November do not like the idea of raising taxes in January, so "Their willingness to accommodate the ideological imperatives of the House Republicans may be weakening."
Anonymously, a Republican Senate aide told Politico's Manu Raju and John Bresnahan, "This is a colossal fumble by the House Republicans."Their inability to recognize a win is costing our party our long-held advantage on the key issue of tax relief. It’s time for Boehner and [House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor to look these rookies in the eye and explain how the game is won or lost." Politico's Mike Allen points out that the hashtag #40dollars -- the average weekly savings the tax holiday would bring --- was trending worldwide on Twitter on Tuesday.

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