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Posts Tagged ‘Payroll Tax Cut Extension’

By ANDREW TAYLOR 02/18/12 06:47 AM ET

Associated Press AP via: Huff Post

WASHINGTON — The $143 billion payroll tax cut won by President Barack Obama may be the last significant measure he receives from a deeply divided Congress that promises to only get more polarized as Election Day approaches.

Obama’s coveted renewal of the payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more caps a five-month campaign-style drive against reluctant Republicans.

Under the bill Congress approved Friday, workers would continue to receive a 2 percentage point increase in their paychecks, and people out of work for more than six months would keep jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week, steps that Obama says will help support a fragile recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

It would also head off a steep cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients.

The tax cuts, jobless coverage and higher doctors’ payments would all continue through 2012.

Passage of the legislation hands Obama a victory over objections from many GOP lawmakers who oppose it but were eager to wipe the issue from the election-year agenda.

It also clears away a political headache for House Republicans, who blocked a two-month extension of the tax cut and jobless coverage in late December, only to retreat quickly under a buzz saw of opposition from conservative and GOP leaders from around the country.

With that history, Republicans seemed ready to get the fight behind them and change the subject for the rest of this election year.

“We’re dumb, but we’re not stupid,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters after he voted. “We did not want to repeat the debacle of last December. It’s not that complicated.”

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Huff Post- First Posted: 02/14/2012 6:15 am Updated: 02/14/2012 8:38 am

By- Jennifer Bendery

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is going on the offense Tuesday, raising pressure on congressional Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits. But it is unclear if the president will accept a GOP effort to separate the two issues.

With weeks before both provisions expire, Obama will host an event at the White House and release a video to nudge Congress to act soon. The White House event, expected to kick off around 10:40 a.m., will feature Americans sharing stories about what the loss of $40 per paycheck means to them. That amount is about how much they would lose if the payroll tax cut isn’t extended.

Obama solicited help from the public in December when Congress last fought on the issue. Then, lawmakers failed to pass a yearlong payroll tax cut extension because they couldn’t agree how to pay for it, so they opted for a two-month extension for  time to reach a long-term deal. That extension expires in late-February.

“To everyone who went online last December and told us what it would be like to lose $40 in every paycheck, you should know that you made all the difference. Your voices changed the debate and reminded Washington what was at stake,” Obama says in the new video. “Well, once again, I need you. We all need you to speak out because if Congress fails to act soon, then taxes on the middle class will go up. So use the #40dollars hash-tag on Twitter or head to whitehouse.gov, and tell everyone what $40 means to you.”

White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer reiterated that Congress needs to reach an agreement by the end of February or 160 million Americans will be hit with a tax hike.

“In December, we asked America to tell us what losing $40 per paycheck would mean for their family, and the answers came from across the country — from students trying to stretch the budget a little bit further. From moms who need to buy their children lunch every day in the school cafeteria. And from commuters who are filling up the tank and looking at rising gas prices. Using Twitter, email and Facebook, they told us clearly that $40 can make all the difference in the world,” Pfeiffer wrote in a Tuesday morning blog post.

Obama’s latest push on the issue comes a day after House Republican leaders unveiled their own plan for a way forward: passing a 10-month payroll tax cut extension that isn’t offset and that isn’t connected to an unemployment insurance extension.

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Huff Post- First Posted: 02/13/2012  2:37 pm Updated: 02/13/2012  3:37 pm

By- Luke Johnson and Michael McAuliff

WASHINGTON — House GOP leaders announced Monday they were putting forward a “backup plan” that would extend the payroll tax cut for ten months, while cleaving it from a similar extension of unemployment insurance benefits and what’s known as the “doc fix,” a measure needed to prevent dramatic cuts in Medicare reimbursements. The plan would not be offset by cuts elsewhere, the announcement said, meaning the cost of the tax cut would be added to the deficit.

The announcement, made quietly on a day Washington is digesting the president’s budget proposal, is a stark reversal. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) took the floor shortly after the statement was emailed to reporters and spoke only of the budget.

“Because the president and Senate Democratic leaders have not allowed their conferees to support a responsible bipartisan agreement, today House Republicans will introduce a backup plan that would simply extend the payroll tax holiday for the remainder of the year while the conference negotiations continue regarding offsets, unemployment insurance, and the ‘doc fix,'” said Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a statement.

The House leaders said in the statement that the plan was not their “first choice.”

“If Democrats continue to refuse to negotiate in good faith, Republicans may schedule this measure for House consideration later this week pending a conversation with our members. Democrats’ refusal to agree to any spending cuts in the conference committee has made it necessary for us to prepare this fallback option to protect small business job creators and ensure taxes don’t go up on middle class workers.”

A Democratic aide familiar with the talks said that Republican leadership had privately conceded the issue in negotiations on Friday, though word had not leaked out over the weekend.

“Whether the payroll tax cut moves separately or as part of the larger package, the Republicans have already said they will give up trying to pay for it by slashing medicare or with other harmful cuts,” said the aide.

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