Following the mandate set by Newt Gingrich at last night’s Republican presidential debate, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has taken a hard line on including the Keystone XL tar sands poison pill in payroll tax legislation. As Republicans dig in, Democrats have already conceded their call for a millionaire tax to pay for the middle class support. A spokesman for McConnell told Talking Points Memo that he will oppose any tax cut legislation that does not include the tar sands rider:
The Leader will not support any bill without the Keystone XL language as part of the agreement.
“What should the Congressional Republicans do? They should attach it to the middle class tax cut, send it to the president, force him to veto it, send it a second time,” Newt said last night. “I’d say to the president, ‘You want to look like you are totally out of touch of the American people? Be my guest, but I’m not backing down when we’re right and you are totally wrong.'”
Watch Newt’s mandate to Congressional Republicans:
Last Sunday, McConnell indicated flexibility on the poison pill, saying that the extension of payroll tax cuts for 160 million Americans was “obviously” going to pass no matter what. However, in the last week, Republicans have shown increasing willingness to embrace the style of brinkmanship that Newt Gingrich displayed as Speaker of the House of Representatives, who shut down the federal government repeatedly on behalf of a radical right-wing agenda.