The Corner

The Payroll Tax Mess

Like pretty much everyone else, I’m peeved at the whole spectacle. Without rehearsing all of the points, there are three things I’ve been thinking about for a while. First, I agree with Dan’s reader, that the wedge-issue power of the pipeline (which I discussed here last week) has been wasted. 

Second, it seems to me that the House GOP should have pocketed that victory and then set the stage for the fight in February. I think Boehner should have come out a few days ago and said something like: “Look, this is bad legislation. We wanted a year-long pay cut and we wanted to pay for it. That’s the challenge the president threw at us and it’s the one the House Republicans met. But he balked because he’s in permanent campaign mode. Instead, before you know it, we’ll be back here in February fighting over this exact issue again. We’ll have done harm to the economy by promoting uncertainty and created paperwork havoc. But that is what the president and the Democrats running the Senate want. The president only cares about reelection and he’s put us in an untenable situation. If the Senate hadn’t run out of town on Obama’s orders we could fix this now. Instead, he kicked the can down the road and all I ask is that people remember that two months from now when we do this whole thing over again.”

Third, as I understand it, the president and the Democrats have conceded a core principle. By supporting a payroll-tax holiday that will be partly paid for out of general revenues, they’ve undermined the fiction that Social Security is a pay-as-you-go program. Some liberals, such as Bernie Sanders, are very upset about this. Oddly, some conservatives acknowledge this point but make it sound like that is a bad thing (Note: It’s not totally clear to me they think it’s a bad thing.) It seems to me Sanders is right to be miffed, given his ideological commitments. But I’m at a loss as to why conservatives shouldn’t be quietly celebrating this strategic blunder by the Democrats — very quietly.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest

If you want to run for office, political consultants will hammer away at one point: Tell stories. People respond to stories. We’ve been a story-telling species since our fur-clad ancestors gathered around campfires. Don’t cite statistics. No one can remember statistics. Make it human. Make it relatable. ... Read More
White House

More Evidence the Guardrails Are Gone

At the end of last month, just as the news of the Ukraine scandal started dominating the news cycle, I argued that we're seeing evidence that the guardrails that staff had placed around Donald Trump's worst instincts were in the process of breaking down. When Trump's staff was at its best, it was possible to draw ... Read More
National Review

Farewell

Today is my last day at National Review. It's an incredibly bittersweet moment. While I've only worked full-time since May, 2015, I've contributed posts and pieces for over fifteen years. NR was the first national platform to publish my work, and now -- thousands of posts and more than a million words later -- I ... Read More
Economy & Business

Andrew Yang, Snake Oil Salesman

Andrew Yang, the tech entrepreneur and gadfly, has definitely cleared the bar for a successful cause candidate. Not only has he exceeded expectations for his polling and fundraising, not only has he developed a cult following, not only has he got people talking about his signature idea, the universal basic ... Read More
Culture

Feminists Have Turned on Pornography

Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the feminist movement has sought to condemn traditional sexual ethics as repressive, misogynistic, and intolerant. As the 2010s come to a close, it might be fair to say that mainstream culture has reached the logical endpoint of this philosophy. Whereas older Americans ... Read More
White House

The Impeachment Defense That Doesn’t Work

If we’ve learned anything from the last couple of weeks, it’s that the “perfect phone call” defense of Trump and Ukraine doesn’t work. As Andy and I discussed on his podcast this week, the “perfect” defense allows the Democrats to score easy points by establishing that people in the administration ... Read More