It's now a messaging war.
With the House of Representatives having voted to reject the Senate-backed two-month payroll tax cut extension and go into negotiations for a full-year extension, the two sides have staked out their positions.
President Obama made a surprise appearance to the White House's daily press briefing this afternoon to call on Republicans to, "Put politics aside, put aside issues where there are fundamental disagreements, and come together on something we agree on. And let’s not play brinksmanship. The American people are weary of it; they’re tired of it. They expect better. I’m calling on the Speaker and the House Republican leadership to bring up the Senate bill for a vote. Give the American people the assurance they need in this holiday season."
In a press conference shortly after, House Speaker John Boehner shot back: “Now it’s up to the president to show real leadership. He said that he won’t leave for the holidays until this bill was done. The next step is clear. President Obama needs to call on Senate Democrats to go back into session, move to go into conference to sit down and resolve this as quickly as possible.”
Boehner appointed negotiators to hash out a deal with the Senate, but the Senate is not in session and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he would not negotiate until the House Republicans approve the two-month extension that received 89 votes in the Senate.
After Boehner's press briefing, Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., told the Examiner, “Where’s the president’s intestinal fortitude? It’s the president that set the marker at a year. And we agree with him. We don’t normally agree with his positions. In that one, he was right. We need a bit of certainty. Everyone agrees with that.”
He defended the House Republicans decision to stand their ground.
“If you know your position is right, you have to stand up for it," he said. "There is no one yet who has said that two months is better policy than one year. No one.”
He said, "Do we stand up and do what’s right for the American people? Or do we back down because we don’t have the stomach for the politics? Obviously, the president doesn’t have the stomach for the politics and that’s why he doesn’t have the leadership to be the president, and hopefully in 2012 he won’t be.”
The payroll tax cut, along with an unemployment benefit extension, will expire if neither side flinches before January 1, and physician payment rates would be slashed under Medicare.