1:23 pm Dec. 19, 2011
This is what Senator Charles Schumer looks like when he sees there's big trouble coming for Washington—in this case, potential fallout over the collapsed compromise payroll tax cut—and he wants to inoculate his party from the worst of it.
With House Republicans threatening to buck a bipartisan deal, which passed the Senate 89-10 on Saturday, Schumer took to "Morning Joe" this morning to see to it that John Boehner's caucus gets a share of the blame commensurate with its role in scuttling the deal. Schumer, who is officially tasked with articulating the Democratic message in the Senate, has said Senate Democrats would not return from their winter recess to pass a House bill.
"Speaker Boehner has two choices and there are only two," Schumer said.
The first is to pass the bill, which seems unlikely based on Boehner's recent comments.
"The second," Schumer said, "is the middle-class tax cut will lapse, and he will be responsible. And I don't think he wants that."
Schumer listed all the ways Democrats had already compromised, and said negotiating with Boehner is "like trying to nail Jell-O to the wall."
Schumer's explanation for the Republicans' continued reluctance to compromise, which he has helped elevate into a sustained narrative, is that Boehner is beholden to a bloc of extreme Tea Partiers that have seized control of the House.
"He's got a caucus that's sort of out of control—a group of it—and he's going to have to buck them," said Schumer, by way of prediction.
And he offered Boehner some friendly advice for the floor vote this evening: "Don't twist arms, let the chips fall where they may."