While most people were focusing on the details of President Obama's latest budget plan, House Republican leaders suddenly shifted positions on extending a payroll tax cut, announcing they would push a bill that extends the plan through the end of this year without cuts to pay for it.
"This is not our first choice," Speaker John Boehner said in a statement with his top lieutenants.
"But in the face of the Democrats’ stonewalling and obstructionism, we are prepared to act to protect small businesses and our economy from the consequences of Washington Democrats’ political games," the GOP leadership added.
In other words, there wasn't going to be a deal on offsets to pay for the tax cut, and Republicans didn't want to get all kinds of bad press for having another wild showdown on this issue at the end of February.
"Democrats have always demanded that we extend the payroll tax cut," said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, "without paying for it."
GOP leaders moved to quickly place the bill on the legislative calendar, clearing the way for a vote in the House as early as Wednesday, though the reaction of rank-and-file Republicans was still in question.
There are two ways to look at this: * The GOP is caving and it looks bad to Tea Party supporters * The move is smart since Democrats were just using GOP budget cut ideas for election year advantage
"Democrats have refused virtually every spending cut proposed – insisting instead on job-threatening tax hikes on small business job creators," Boehner complained, as Republicans worried they were about to get politically slammed again on the matter.