House Republicans did an abrupt about-face on their previously dug-in heels today, and it now looks as certain as things ever do on Capitol Hill these days that 160 million Americans won't be hit with higher Social Security taxes.
Republicans are going to back down from their insistence that the payroll tax holiday last an entire year. Speaker John Boehner says he can persuade enough of his fellow House Republicans to go along with the two-month extension that the Senate passed last week. There's going to be some minor language changes to help small businesses cope with the taxes in this, and that's going to give House Republicans something to show for holding out most of the week for a year-long extension, but those are small tweaks, something that the Senate should be able to agree to in short order.
House Republicans were facing unrelenting pressure -- even from their own party members and their allies. Unlike the debt ceiling stalemate last summer, which involved government borrowing and big macroeconomic financial issues, this was an impasse over very personal individual money issues. That's 160 million American workers, how much money they're going to get in their paychecks, just two or three weeks from now. And when it gets that personal, the public pressure can be brutal on politicians.