Congress members in the U.S. announced this morning they had reached a bi-partisan deal to extend a payroll tax cut that affects 160 million middle class Americans. The cut, which reduced the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, had been intended as a way to stimulate the sagging economy and was due to expire at the end of February.
The deal is expected to be passed by this Friday. It also includes an extension of unemployment benefits, though an earlier proposal to reduce the pay of doctors who treat elderly patients covered by Medicare did not make it in the final version.
While this is widely seen as a victory for President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress, the agreement also benefits Republicans. Their decision to support the bill stands in stark contrast to their “Party of No” approach, which had been the norm so far. Whether this conciliatory approach marks a shift in strategy ahead of the November election remains to be seen, but it certainly limits the Democrats’ ability to decry the Republicans as the party of evil, at least for this one time.