Payroll Tax Holiday Aftermath

I just received, as I’m sure many of you did, an email from the White House crowing about the recent total victory over John “Dr. No” Boehner and the GOTea party house.

I don’t blame the President and his team at all for sending out these glad tidings. It WAS a shockingly complete rout of Boehner and his pro-1% flying monkeys. Congratulations all ’round. For real. Only…the email focused upon the involvement of individual citizens who took to their computers and their webcams to record stories of what an extra $40 per paycheck means to them. While I’m sure that helped reassure the Democrats (and warn the Republicans) that the 99% really did stand with the President and the Democrats on this issue.

That made me write the following response:

Although I’d like to believe the heartwarming fiction that it was only the response of tens of thousands of people who took to the web to tell their stories of privation via a tax increase which made the difference between the payroll tax holiday passing and it NOT passing, I’ve watched Washington work for too long to be fooled by that story. And so have all of you.

After all, it wasn’t as if John Boehner and the rest of the obstructionists in the house GOP really didn’t understand the concept of a tax cut and what it could mean for people. That’s Republicans’ wheelhouse issue. Or at least it used to be. Perhaps that may be changing…that would be the true miracle of Christmas as it applies to gridlocked Washington this year.

No, what made the difference (as we both know) was the both the President and the Democrats in the House AND Senate simply stood firm. You knew you had the people at your backs and the facts on your side, and this time, you simply. didn’t. cave.

And look what it got you.

Everyone from Paul Krugman to the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal took to their respective podiums and called this one an unmitigated disaster for Boehner and his Tea Party minions. And rightly so. It WAS an unmitigated disaster for them. But let’s be clear about the reasons, here: YOU did it, not us. The public has a responsibility every couple of years to change the makeup of Washington, if enough of us don’t like what’s been going on.

The problem is – or has been, up until now – that no matter how we seem to shuffle the deck each biennial election, Washington doesn’t seem to change into what we need, want or – in most cases – into what the people running for the seats we elect them to promised they’d push for.

This time was different. You stayed the course, to quote a certain ex-President. We’ve never doubted that you knew what was right, or what would work…we’ve just been disappointed because time and again, you seemed to lack either the political will or the negotiating skill to make it actually happen. There’s a limit to what the public can do, once the election is over. Every election, we’re painfully aware that we’re not electing policies, we’re electing individuals, and that means a crap-shoot. It means we’re getting a pig in a poke. We TRY to get what we want by electing people who SAY they’re for this or that…but, too often, it just doesn’t happen, even when it seems like it was quite possible.

This time, YOU held the line, not us. We don’t vote on the floor of congress. We don’t have veto power (or the power of a threatened veto). You do. And look what happens when you stick together and USE IT. You win.

Remember that. It’s an important lesson, one I’m sure I sound patronizing to even remind you about. I don’t mean to sound patronizing, but the truth is that, from out here, far too often it seems as if you’ve forgotten that simple fact. Once the election’s over, YOU have the power. And when you step up and use it, you’ll instantly have that astonishingly hopeful coalition of the public behind you that you had in 2008.

I hope that won’t be lost on you as you head into 2012. Good job on this one, truly. See what YOU can accomplish when you don’t let the GOP steamroll you?