Over at Politico Byron Tau and Ben Smith are raising the red flag about the possibility of Republicans using the expiration of the 18.4 cent per gallon gas tax on September 30th as their new hostage in the next stage of disaster legislating. The anti-tax Republicans are already making noises about not extending this tax. From Politico:
Already, a handful of conservative groups are eyeing the expiration as the next potential front in the spending and tax fight — including Grover Norquist’s influential Americans for Tax Reform group — but are mum about any potential legislative strategy.
“In general, ATR has always supported the idea of ending the federal tax on gas and having states pay for their own roads,” Norquist told POLITICO, but he declined to say whether he or his group plans to pressure congressional Republicans to let the excise tax expire.
It would seem that taking this tax extension hostage would fit the GOP’s new game plan. Given President Obama’s pattern of folding and that the tax will expire unless the GOP actively extends it, I wouldn’t be surprised if they exploit the event for some spending cut concessions.
Whether are not Republicans try to exploit the gas tax expiration is less important than the fact that it shows there are plenty of potential items coming up that the House Republicans can use to create a hostage situation.
This is the inherent flaw in the logic of those trying to say the debt ceiling deal wasn’t so terrible because most of its cuts are delayed. Large near term cuts are still going to happen. The GOP will simply exploit some of the new potential hostage situations to get them.
This is why President Obama’s behavior in the debt ceiling was so horrifyingly bad. He actually had the leverage in this fight to take as stand against this tactic and proved he was serious by minting a $1 trillion coin or using the 14th amendment.
In these small future moments of disaster legislating, the President will have less leverage and less ability to rally public opinion.