Despite misgivings about certain provisions, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., favors the payroll tax cut deal and believes the House should approve it.
The Senate passed a two-month extension of the tax relief over the weekend, but Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., said Sunday the Republican caucus would reject the bipartisan deal. The speaker says Republicans want a one-year extension and do not believe in a piecemeal policy that will go into next year.
Yarmuth says GOP lawmakers are being irresponsible and are putting the agreement and economy in jeopardy.
“I don’t think any of us are happy with the two-month extension of payroll tax cuts or the unemployment benefits. It’s a horrible way to do policy making. That being said, this is all about compromise and rather than let these tax benefits expire and jeopardize the economy further, I feel this is a reasonable compromise,” he says.
The White House has also chimed in, accusing Boehner of backpedaling on the two-month measure because of a “tea party revolt” from rank-and-file Republicans. But the speaker says the short-term fix is where the uncertainty lies and the House will reshape the bill.
“We oppose the Senate bill because doing a two-month extension instead of a full year extension causes uncertainty for job creators. I used to run a small business, I met a payroll, I hired workers. A two-month extension creates uncertainty and will cause problems for people who are trying to create jobs in the private sector,” says Boehner. “The idea that tax policy can be done two months at a time is the kind of activity that we see here in Washington that’s really put our economy off its tracks.”
The House is scheduled to take up the Senate bill when members return to Washington later today. Without action, the payroll tax relief will expire January 1.
Observers expect the speaker’s prediction will hold and the House will reject the temporary fix. If the Senate compromise is voted down, the issue will then proceed to House-Senate conference negotiations.
Yarmuth says the political argument could mean a lapse in the tax cut for 160 million Americans and will further solidify the 112th Congress’ reputation for gridlock.
“What Speaker Boehner is doing is totally irresponsible, to actually negotiate a bill and then to turn around and say he’s not supporting it makes no sense,” he says. “It will lead to further deterioration of whatever is left of the public’s confidence in Congress and again, it creates uncertainty both with people’s lives and the economy.”