No, the Government Isn't Shutting Down

Posted: Dec 16, 2011 8:17 AM

It looks like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has dropped his grinch role and is willing to compromise on payroll tax extensions in order to keep the government open for business past Christmas. After all, Washington politicians have vacations to attend to, specifically President Obama who is leaving for a 17-Hawaii getaway.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress found a compromise way Thursday night out of a deeply partisan standoff that threatened millions of Americans with a big New Year's tax increase, the unemployed with loss of government benefits and the whole federal government with a shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said congressional bargainers were preparing a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut and expiring jobless benefits as a fallback plan in case negotiations on a yearlong package do not succeed.

The logjam was broken one day before the government would have been forced to close its doors because of a lack of money, the result of a tangled dispute over taxes and spending. The issues have become a kind of holy grail among politicians facing elections in less than 11 months.

At issue are the extension of a reduced tax Americans automatically pay into the Social Security pension plan, extended federal government payments to the unemployed and funding to keep the government working.