New York Times reporter Jonathan Weisman strangely painted the fiscal cliff deal (which displeased conservatives with its tax increases and lack of spending cuts) as a fiscal dream come true for Republicans in his "news analysis" for Wednesday's front page. Weisman also mocked the GOP's historical support for low taxes.
Just a few years ago, the tax deal pushed through Congress on Tuesday would have been a Republican fiscal fantasy, a sweeping bill that locks in virtually all of the Bush-era tax cuts, exempts almost all estates from taxation, and enshrines the former president’s credo that dividends and capital gains should be taxed equally and gently.
But times have changed, President George W. Bush is gone, and before the bill’s final passage late Tuesday, House Republican leaders struggled all day to quell a revolt among caucus members who threatened to blow up a hard-fought compromise that they could have easily framed as a victory. Many House Republicans seemed determined to put themselves in a position to be blamed for sending the nation’s economy into a potential tailspin under the weight of automatic tax increases and spending cuts.
The latest internal party struggle on Capitol Hill surprised even Senate Republicans, who had voted overwhelmingly for a deal largely hashed out by their leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. The bill passed the Senate, 89 to 8, at 2 a.m. on Tuesday, with only 5 of the chamber’s 47 Republicans voting no.
Twenty-one hours later, the same measure was opposed by 151 of the 236 Republicans voting in the House. It was further proof that House Republicans are a new breed, less enamored of tax cuts per se than they are driven to shrink government through steep spending cuts. Protecting nearly 99 percent of the nation’s households from an income tax increase was not enough if taxes rose on some and government spending was untouched.
A party that once disputed that there was any real “cost” of tax cuts encountered sticker shock when the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that enacting them in place of the “fiscal cliff” provisions would cost $4 trillion over 10 years.
Weisman mentioned in a middle paragraph that the two-year-old cut in the payroll tax would be allowed to lapse. But a full story on the payroll tax going up was buried deep in the Business Section, on B6.
Also on Wednesday's front, Jennifer Steinhauer focused on Republicans in the House done in by a conservative "reach to the right": "Democrats, while hardly placated by the compromise, celebrated Mr. Obama’s nominal victory in his final showdown with House Republicans in the 112th Congress, who began their term emboldened by scores of new, conservative members whose reach to the right ultimately tipped them over."