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Payroll Tax, Jobless Benefit and Medicare Means Testing Version of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas Payroll Tax, Jobless Benefit and Medicare Means Testing Version of 'T...

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Congress / CONGRESS

Payroll Tax, Jobless Benefit and Medicare Means Testing Version of 'Twas The Night Before Christmas

(Creative Commons)

photo of Major Garrett
December 23, 2011

National Journal congressional correspondent Major Garrett reflects—in verse—on the battle over the now-settled payroll-tax package.

With apologies, profound apologies, to the regal legacy of Clement Clarke Moore

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the House

 

Partisan creatures were stirring, calling each other a louse

Poll numbers were hung in the cloakrooms with care

In hopes that, come 2012, motivated voters would soon be there

 

Recession-weary taxpayers were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of a 2 percent payroll tax cut danced in their heads

And Boehner in his kerchief and Cantor in his cap

Settled their feud and tried to give Harry Reid a procedural rap

 

When out on the national mall lawn there arose such a clatter

Lawmakers, fearful of #Occupy, fretted to see what was the matter

Away to their windows they flew like a flash

As if chasing pre-Christmas K Street campaign cash

 

The moon on the reflecting pool shimmered diamond-bright

While frustrated lawmakers sat stone-faced, angry – ready to fight

When what to the nation’s wondering eyes should appear

But a two-month payroll tax cut, with CBO scoring all hold so dear

 

The brash young driver, with a mien of “no drama”

Congress knew in a moment it was campaign Obama

More rapid than canvassers in Iowa, his minions they came

And he looked to the Tele-Promp-Ter, squinted, and called them by name

 

Now, Carney! Now Axelrod! Now Jarrett and Daley

On Cutter! On Burton! On Plouffe and Messina

To the top of the White House, to the top of Sears Tower

Now campaign away, campaign away, campaign away all

 

As dry Republicans with green eyeshades they spy

A historic debt load mounted sky high

Up to the bean counters, their budgeteers they flew

With a sleigh full of policy revisions, and spending cuts, too

 

And, then, in a twinkling was heard on the Capitol Dome

The slicing scythe of bureaucracy-cutting chrome

Taxpayers drew in their heads and cable TV was all around

Into their living room, talking-point-trained lawmakers came with a bound

 

The spending cuts dressed all in white fur, a Keystone XL pipeline stuck to its foot

To Democrats, the clothes looked all tarnished, the XL covered with carbon and soot

A bundle of “toys” Republicans had flung on their back

But to Democrats the cuts and pipeline deal looked like high-octane crack

 

No matter the party - truth is spending cuts do not twinkle, show dimples so merry

They have, to voters, thorns of big roses and privations quite scary

No droll little mouth or bipartisan consensus do they sow

For out there somewhere there’s a for whom a spending cut blows

 

Undaunted, the stump of UI revisions Republicans held tight in their teeth

Democrats moaned that the proposed drug test encircled current recipients like a thief

Cutting jobless benefits from 99 to 59 weeks, moreover, hit the discouraged square in the belly

Republicans shook off the criticism, predicting change will help the jobless and economy get welly

 

Medicare benefits remained chubby and plump, with them each senior a right jolly old elf

Budget scolds say the nation, when looking at the numbers, should laugh in spite of itself

With the wink of eye, the idea of trimming Medicare benefits goes straight to bead

Even though the cost will eventually give all taxpayers debt nightmares to dread

 

Spending cuts can speak not a word, can do no work

They fill no deficit hole, give budget hawks no perk

Unless lawmakers, from parties both, hold their nose

And nod so consensus can bloom like a rose

 

And spring to a sleigh, whether Obama or Reid, Boehner or McConnell sound a whistle

So deficit reduction - or, at least, genuine deficit neutrality - can fly like a Simpson-Bowles missile

Then the nation could here exclaim amid the debt and deficit blight

Happy spending cut and payroll tax cut, and to all, good night

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