It's only fitting that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) would close the year with one more act of brinksmanship. Boehner announced Sunday that he opposed the bipartisan deal in the Senate on a stopgap extension of soon-to-expire payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits and Medicare payment rates for physicians — a deal that he reportedly urged his caucus to accept, only to have other members of his leadership team oppose it. The Senate proposal was far from perfect, but it gave the House GOP a clear win on what supposedly was its top priority: the Keystone XL pipeline project. By not accepting the deal, House Republicans show again that they're unable or unwilling to stop moving the goal posts.
Leaders in both chambers have said they want to keep the temporary payroll tax cut in place for another year, and that they back the provisions on Medicare and unemployment insurance as well. The problem for Boehner is that many of the members of his GOP caucus don't agree.
Senate negotiators agreed on a way to raise enough money to extend the expiring provisions for two months. That's not enough, and Boehner was right when he said it's lousy policy to extend a tax cut for only a few weeks. But it would buy time for lawmakers to come up with an alternative both parties can accept, while keeping the pressure on them to do so.