Steve Benen thinks Republicans want to extend the payroll tax cut, but plan to hold it hostage to tax cuts for the rich:

If I had to guess, I’d say Republicans probably support an extension of the payroll tax cut, but just aren’t willing to say so. Why not? Because then they lose leverage — GOP officials know the White House wants this, and if they simply agree to pass the measure, they won’t get anything extra out of the deal. Hostage strategies have become an instinctual norm for Republicans.

I really don't think that's right. I don't think Republicans care at all about tax cuts for the middle class. Tax cuts for the middle class was the price the Bush administration and its GOP allies paid to get the tax cuts it really wanted in 2001. Then in 2003, when it had more leverage, the Republicans passed a tax cuts that benefited the rich almost exclusively.

Republicans have gone from viewing tax cuts for the middle class as a waste of money to viewing it as a positive threat. they have spent the last two years complaining that the bottom half of the income distribution doesn't pay enough taxes.

So, no I don't think GOP opposition to extending the payroll tax cut is a bluff. They really don't want to extend it. Now, whether they're willing to take the political heat for not extending it is another question. But they genuinely want to raise taxes on poor (and low-income) workers. Here's former American Enterprise Institute donor and former American Express CEO Harvey Golub complaining bitterly that some propose to raise his taxes while those freeloaders with low five figure income get off scot free:

What gets me most upset is two other things about this argument: the unfair way taxes are collected, and the violation of the implicit social contract between me and my government that my taxes will be spent—effectively and efficiently—on purposes that support the general needs of the country. Before you call me greedy, make sure you operate fairly on both fronts.
Today, top earners—the 250,000 people who earn $1 million or more—pay 20% of all income taxes, and the 3% who earn more than $200,000 pay almost half. Almost half of all filers pay no income taxes at all. Clearly they earn less and should pay less. But they should pay something and have a stake in our government spending their money too.

Later in the same op-ed, Golub argues that he shouldn't have to pay higher taxes as long as the government continues to have programs he doesn't deem necessary:

Why do we require that public projects pay above-market labor costs? Why do we spend billions on trains that no one will ride? Why do we keep post offices open in places no one lives? Why do we subsidize small airports in communities close to larger ones? Why do we pay government workers above-market rates and outlandish benefits? Do we really need an energy department or an education department at all?
Here's my message: Before you "ask" for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely. Then you'll need less of my money.

Or just raise taxes on those lazy freeloading slobs at the bottom half of the income distribution. No doubt they support every single thing the federal government does and are therefore obliged to pay more.

Meanwhile, here's the Daily Show brilliantly skewering the Republican obsession with "class warfare":

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
World of Class Warfare - The Poor's Free Ride Is Over
www.thedailyshow.com
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