Rove: Republicans should fold in payroll tax cut standoff

Former Bush adviser Karl Rove said he agreed with the Wall Street Journal’s blistering assessment on the failure of House Republican leadership in the payroll-tax debate, and conceded that Republicans have “lost the optics” and should fold on the issue.

“I think the Wall Street Journal editorial hit it right on the nail, the question now is how do Republicans get out of it,” Rove told Fox News on Wednesday.

In a scathing editorial on Wednesday, the conservative newspaper said House GOP leadership had “thoroughly botched” the payroll tax cut fight, and in doing so put President Obama in a “stronger reelection position” that opens the door to Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Rove said that no matter who is to blame, Republicans have lost control of the message.

“They’ve lost the optics on it,” he said.

Rove suggested that the only way forward for Republicans is to wait for the president to join his family in Hawaii for Christmas, vote to approve the Senate-passed bill which would extend the tax cut for two months, and then make the case that Democratic obstructionism is to blame for the parties being unable to come to an agreement on a full year extension.

“The only way to win it is to sit there and ruin their own Christmases and wait until the president heads off to Hawaii for his, and then lambast the Democrats for having abdicated their responsibility of passing a year-long tax cut,” Rove said.

“There’s only one way out of it,” he continued. “Is to stay in Washington, wait until President Obama gets on an airplane and heads for Hawaii, and then hold a session in the House, vote the two month extension and use the opportunity to beat up on the now long absent Democrats and Harry Reid and the absent president and say look - this is going to not be good for the companies that have to write the paychecks.”

While both parties agree that the payroll tax should be extended for all of 2012, last week the Senate overwhelmingly voted to only extend it through February to give both sides more time to come to an agreement on how to pay for a longer-term extension. This week, House Republicans refused to vote on the Senate-passed two-month bill, saying the debate over how to pay for a yearlong tax holiday should happen now.