"You know, the president's been calling for bipartisanship on Capitol Hill, I'm not sure that he meant for the two of you to get together and go up against his signature program," MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell complained at the conclusion of a chat with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) on today's Andrea Mitchell Reports.
Mitchell had the senators on to discuss their opposition to extending the 2011 payroll tax holiday.
"You're going up against your party, Sen. Manchin, and, at the same time you're denying the middle class the virtues of a payroll tax that the president has been campaigning so hard on," Mitchell complained to West Virginia's junior senator. "Aren't you putting the president on the spot on one of the signature issues as he kicks off his campaign?"
Manchin protested that "it shouldn't be about the next election" but about "the next generation" and that an extended payroll tax holiday would underfund Social Security and harm retirees.
Mitchell then turned to Sen. Kirk, noting that numerous Republican candidates support extending the Social Security payroll tax holiday. "So why are you so dead set against it?" Mitchell pressed.
Kirk responded that the continuance of the payroll tax holiday will "cost Social Security $250 billion." "Social Security is already running $10 billion in the red" and passing an extension to the tax holiday will increase Social Security by 20 times and that the federal government will "replace those losses with government bonds that no longer have a AAA credit rating from Standard & Poor's."
Well, "What if they come up with another way to pay for it" like a "millionaire's tax," Mitchell prompted. The liberal-leaning Kirk responded that neither a millionaire's tax nor the Republican suggestion for offsetting spending cuts would be likely to prevent losses to the "Social Security trust fund."