The two parties do not agree on extending the payroll tax cut. Democrats want to extend it, and Republicans want voters to think they want to extend it. But those two positions are actually very different...if Republicans wanted to extend the payroll tax cut for a full year, they would have extended the payroll tax cut for a full year...But they don’t. They want to make spending cuts and secure the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and force everyone on unemployment insurance to get drug tested. That’s what this debate is about. But it would be unpopular for Boehner to come out and say that that’s the Republican position.Yup, that's about right.
Now, there is a separate question here: absent the Democrats, would Republicans support extending the payroll tax cut? That's a harder one to figure out. On the one hand, Republicans sure do claim to be for lower taxes, and there's no real history of them insisting on pay-fors. On the other...well, these particular tax cuts aren't targeted the way GOP-authored tax cuts are targeted. And a lot of Republicans have been complaining that taxes are too low for people who don't pay income tax. So there's really no way to be sure what Republicans would do in a world in which they controlled both branches but still had to (for some reason) deal with this question.
As it is, however, Klein is right. Nice catch!