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House GOP Paints Itself Into a Corner on Payroll Taxes

December 20, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate, having voted 89-10 to approve an extension of payroll tax cuts, unemployment benefits and dome other policies that are scheduled to expire on January 1st, has recessed for the year and gone home for the holiday recess. All that the House has to do to make the bill officially ready to be signed into law is hold a simple up-or-down vote on the Senate’s bipartisan bill. But during a 3 a.m. meeting of the House Rules Committee last night, the Republican majority devised a different plan — twist the voting procedure so that the Senate’s bill can be rejected while allowing the Republicans to save face by technically voting “aye.”

David Dayen at FDL News Desk reports:

The procedural wizards in the House Republican caucus stayed up late last night to concoct this scheme, a way to dispose of the Senate’s payroll tax deal by voting affirmatively. They think this helps insulate their members from charges of rejecting the deal, and causing a tax increase of on average $1,000 a year. Here’s how it’ll go down:

Instead of putting the deal up for a vote, they will vote to call a conference committee with Senate negotiators to reconcile their poison pill-laden bill with the Senate bill that received 89 votes. Then they will pass a “motion to instruct conferees” that will essentially tell them to pass their version of the bill. The minority will have the opportunity to enter their own motion to instruct conferees, but in all likelihood that will be voted down.

Remember, these are the same Republicans that cried holy hell during the “deem and pass” era, when Democrats tried to pass the health care bill without actually passing it. Now they’re trying the same thing, so that when their members are confronted over this vote, they can have this exchange:

Democrat: You voted to increase taxes on the middle class.
Republican: No I didn’t, I voted to send our bill to conference. It’s not my fault that the Senate didn’t show up! (flash toothy grin).

House Republicans say they oppose the bipartisan Senate bill because it only extends the payroll tax cuts for two months. But the Democrat-led Senate has been trying for months to get the Republicans to support a longer-term extension. The Republicans have repeatedly rejected the Senate’s offers, first demanding that the tax cut be offset (a huge flip-flop), then that nobody who makes over $1 million sees an increase in their taxes (thereby risking a large tax increase on the middle class), and then that a provision related to the Keystone XL oil pipeline be attached to the legislation. At this point, the Senate has agreed to give in to both of those demands, but only for long enough to keep the payroll tax cuts in effect while they negotiate a longer deal. That’s what the Republicans will be rejecting today, while trying to obscure the procedure and make it look like they’re the ones being pro-active.

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  • mshughes 12/20/2011 7:29pm

    Once again, you’ve produced a spun version of non-objective untruth! The Republicans, best I understand, want to extend the duration of the payroll tax cuts to 12 months PLUS create 20K [estimated] jobs by allowing the oil pipeline to proceed.

    The Senate pushed through a cut for 2 months, then, after yet ANOTHER temporary patch, the Senate LEFT TOWN attempting to FORCE the Republican’s hand. But, this policy puts companies in an untenable position because they have NO CERTAINTY past the 2 months, then, the hoopla starts again.

    In the end, this “tax cut” has NO MATERIAL IMPACT on the economy, but ONLY depletes further the Social Security funds available to pay out to existing Seniors. But, that pipeline will create jobs, tap FRIENDLY RESOURCES from Canada to add to supply, lowering the price of oil, and it will marginally improve our National Security!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of the Republicans … but they’re DAMN RIGHT on this one.

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    PeterJPB 12/20/2011 7:54pm

    I mostly agree with you. One thing I dislike is that Republicans attached the pipeline to this bill in the first place. I think that’s wrong. In my opinion, bills should go through congress with one purpose and should not have other issues tacked on so that that the secondary measure will pass. It’s sneaky and only contributes to the inability of congress to of anything these days.

    They should pass a procedural amendment outlawing this kind of play.

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  • luminous 12/21/2011 1:46am

    The pipeline creates around 1500 jobs not 20 thousand. It would be build over important watershed area that feeds the farming industry in a dozen or so States, The REPUBLICAN governor and leg of the State it goes through are against it, The pipeline would be build over area’s of soft soil that shifts around likely leading to breaks and spills, these same soft soil area’s are very permeable to the underground water below, Keystone XL wants exemptions from liability and environmental rules as part of their application, The jobs are entirely temporary, and that doesn’t even go into the problems that liberals have with the thing related to the type of oil dirtiness of the tar sands process and objections to the abusive way this thing is trying to be shoved through.

    Its a crap deal, why the hell should America put $10’s of billions worth of farm industry in harms way for a foreign corporation and a few temporary jobs?

  • luminous 12/21/2011 1:53am

    “But, this policy puts companies in an untenable position because they have NO CERTAINTY past the 2 months, then, the hoopla starts again.”

    This only effects employee side of the contribution of SS FICA taxes, and unemployment insurance. Has nothing todo with what corps and employers pay.

    It was passed with a super majority of Senate republicans within the republican caucus, and this wasn’t rushed, Hardly their isn’t enough time to run a conference committee and pass something because the house waited so long to deal with it.

  • luminous 12/21/2011 2:06am

    “In the end, this “tax cut” has NO MATERIAL IMPACT on the economy,”

    Complete nonsense, The problem in the current economy is a demand side issue. People don’t have the money to spend because of high unemployment, 401K loses, lower job/pay advancement due to to many people delaying retirement, company profits are up, worker productivity is WAY up, and 22-28% of the population is unable to fully participate in the economy due to unemployment and underemployment.

    Putting $1000 into the pockets of every work(on avg) and it will get spent, spending creates new jobs as companies seek to supply the goods those people demand. Corporations don’t make things they can’t sell if they can at all help it, They won’t manufacture products for people who can’t buy them.

    Over concentration on micro economics has caused to many to lose sight of the larger picture, its the wages of the average working man/woman that satisfies demand, we can’t hide wage stagnation behind credit anymore.

  • Jwalsh 12/21/2011 12:49pm
    Actually the economy is a lot more complex than both demand and supply side economics.But that’s a long term equation that no one bill or even a series of bills will be able to solve. The very absolute thing that we know that this bill is trying to help is the fact that this economy needs any help that it can get. I could get into mini discussions about this but this is very easily solved. The president needs to drive the mile down the road call both houses back actually sit down and hash things out together. Part of the problem is that they try to work out agreements away from each other. Be leaders and if you cant lead resign your post and leave Washington.
  • fidlerten 12/22/2011 11:13pm

    I think it was a shame that the Senate was expected by the House to stay in Washington for Christmas after they did their job. We’re also only talking about an extension to the tax cut so that they could fight another day over each of their priorities, not something to difficult to do.
    I really don’t care how uncertain the job creators are; they’ve had things easy in the last several years and it’s time our government pays more attention to us workers and our needs, not just the job creators. Things are beginning to turn around now anyway
    And as far as our economy; it’s as simple as having confidence that it will succeed if all sides are playing fairly. It is all about supply and demand, with some confidence thrown in for good measure, Jwalsh. We complicate it with a lot of stuff but believe me, if we just give the middle class some reason to have confidence, then the job creators will have a reason to create jobs.

  • Jwalsh 12/29/2011 6:17pm

    The Supply and Demand that we were referring to were within the Macroeconomic principles of economics. You have a Supply side theory that basically feels that if you reduce regulations and taxes on businesses that it will lower cost and stimulate growth. Demand side theory feels that you cut taxes on citizens and increase government spending hoping that citizens will buy more goods. Neither theory has worked 100% of the time. I believe there is more to the equation to fix the economy than these two theories.

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    Obama and fellow Democrats insisted on taxing the wealthy to offset the deficit impact of the payroll tax cut and of providing jobless benefits.

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  • TedPass 05/10/2012 10:45am

    Tax cuts are necessary:

  • TedPass 05/10/2012 10:48am

    Tax cuts lead to more wealth:

  • TedPass 05/10/2012 10:49am

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