House Republicans Cave on Payroll Tax Cut Extension


Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday skirted the question of whether he supported Boehner's decision to reject the Senate bill, only saying, "My own view is had I been president, I would have been working with the leaders in both parties to see if there's not a way to reach common ground. My assessment of the circumstances is that there is common ground to reach in this matter. This should have been dealt with some time ago."

Newt Gingrich, however, took a widely different approach. Going into what appeared to be Speaker mode, the former Speaker jumped to give his Republican counterparts in the House some advice.

"Incumbent presidents have enormous advantages. And I think what Republicans ought to do is what's right for America," Gingrich said. "They ought to do it calmly and pleasantly and happily."

In a not-so-veiled jab against Romney, Gingrich said today that a candidate running for president ought not to run away from the issue.

"There's a concept called leadership," he said. "We need real leaders who have the courage to say what they really think. This is a mess. Washington's a mess. ... Think about how this muddle looks around the world. We can't even pass a tax cut?"

Conservatives had lashed out at House Republicans for creating a "fiasco" that put the party in a negative light and virtually hands over the win to Obama and Democrats.

"The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play," the Wall Street Journal stated in an editorial Wednesday. "Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter, although he's spent most of his presidency promoting tax increases and he would hit the economy with one of the largest tax increases ever in 2013. This should be impossible."

In an election year, a deadlock such as this could have significant negative consequences.

"Through all this analysis of the fiasco, there is a sense of doom for the Republican House. They have gone out on an ice floe with no obvious way back to shore," wrote conservative radio talk show host John Batchelor. "There is a strong possibility that President Obama will nurse the grievance against the Republican Party, and the Tea Party particularly, until the State of the Union."

ABC News' Jonathan Karl, Ann Compton and Amy Walter contributed to this report.

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