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McConnell Mum Over House GOP Payroll Tax Cut Plan

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to endorse a plan by the House GOP to extend the payroll-tax holiday for the remain of the year without paying for it.

After months of partisan gridlock that resulted in a short-term extension set to expire February 29, GOP leaders in the House have yielded by offering to vote on the 2 percent tax relief as a stand alone bill.

The sudden compromise from the Republican-controlled House would add the cost of the extension to the debt and has surprised many political observers. The trade off would be a continued debate over additional unemployment benefits and legislation to prevent lowering fees paid to doctors by Medicare.

McConnell told reports Tuesday he didn’t “have a view on it right now.”

From The Hill:

McConnell had told reporters last week that Congress should not extend the 4.2 percent payroll-tax rate for the rest of the year by adding to the estimated $1.3 trillion federal deficit for 2012.

(SNIP)

“So there’s a high level of frustration within the conference, and I think diminishing optimism about the chances of the conference functioning,” he added. “So I can understand why the House leadership, exasperated with the lack of progress in the conference, is looking around at other alternatives.”

McConnell said last week that the payroll-tax cut should be paid for.

“We’ve added 43 percent to the national debt in the last three years,” he said. “We now have a debt the size of our economy, which looks a lot like Greece. At what point do we anticipate getting serious here about doing something about deficit and debt?”

House Democratic leader are reportedly considering the compromise.

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Deal on Payroll Tax Cut Unlikely, Says Yarmuth

The short-term extension of the payroll tax cut is set to expire at the end of this month, and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., is skeptical a compromise can be reached.

In December, Congress was embroiled in a partisan debate over the issue, but was able to broker a deal to extend the relief for an additional two months. A 20-member conference committee is now discussing whether and how to pay for a further extension of the two percent tax break for nearly every working American.

But negotiations are reportedly going so badly that lawmakers expect the cut to expire by the February 29 deadline.

Yarmuth says the committee members have yet to find common ground and underscores that pessimism is high in Washington over the deal.

“It appears that we are in virtually in the same position we were two months ago and unfortunately there are very few days left where we’re scheduled to be in session in order to come to an agreement. And speaking with some of the conferees, they are no closer to an agreement than they were two months ago,” he says.

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McConnell: House Should Pass Short-Term Payroll Extension

With the deadline approaching, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., publicly broke with Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., and urged the Republican-controlled House to pass the two-month payroll extension.

Last weekend, McConnell brokered a bipartisan deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., to keep the tax relief for another two months. However, Boehner denounced the deal after rank-and-file House Republicans rebelled and later rejected the Senate-bill.

Since then, Senate Republicans and GOP pundits have been calling on the House to compromise.

McConnell says the House and Senate should negotiate a long-term deal, but that Boehner’s caucus should first pass the payroll tax set to expire December 31.

From the National Journal:

McConnell groped for political ground in his first public statement on the matter since Boehner denounced the bipartisan package the Senate GOP leader helped negotiate over the weekend. That two-month plan cleared the Senate 89-10 on Saturday.

McConnell said that not only should the House pass the two-month package, but that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should appoint the conferees that Boehner has demanded to begin formal negotiations between the two chambers over how to lengthen the tax break for a full year.

“House Republicans sensibly want greater certainty about the duration of these provisions, while Senate Democrats want more time to negotiate the terms. These goals are not mutually exclusive. We can and should do both,” McConnell said in the statement.

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Young Defends House GOP, Payroll Tax Cut Vote

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has rejected a bipartisan Senate plan to extend a two percent payroll tax cut for an additional two months.

House GOP leaders then voted for an immediate conference with the Senate to negotiate a one-year extension, but the Democratic-controlled chamber has adjourned for the year. If lawmakers fail to extend the cuts then taxes will go up for 160 million workers on January 1.

U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-In., joined his GOP colleagues and voted against the Senate bill. He says Republican lawmakers listened to their constituents and the short-term extension was not good for small business owners.

“Those job creators out there that said a 60-day extension would really impact their payroll. It would increase their cost and it would increase uncertainty. The last thing we need to do right now is further increase uncertainty in our economic, which would adversely effect job creation,” he says.

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Yarmuth Dislikes Senate Bill, But Favors Payroll Tax Cut Compromise

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.

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Democrats Backing Off Millionaires to Compromise on Payroll Tax Cuts

With time running out before the expiration of the payroll tax cuts, Democrats are dropping their proposal to tax the wealthiest Americans to pay for the relief as a way to compromise with their Republican counterparts.

The legislation to extend the cuts passed the House earlier this week, but not without contention or the remaining partisan dispute over how to pay for them. However, it appears the Democrats have blinked first.

From TIME:

Democrats backed away from their demand for higher taxes on millionaires as part of legislation to extend Social Security tax cuts for most Americans on Wednesday as Congress struggled to clear critical year-end bills without triggering a partial government shutdown.

(SNIP)

Officials said Democrats were drafting a new proposal to extend the payroll tax that likely would not include the millionaires’ surtax that Republicans opposed almost unanimously.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has minimized the significance of the compromise and suggested in an interview with CNBC that Democrats  are “not giving up a whole lot” in the deal.

Asked about the party caving on the surtax, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., issued the following statement:

“I don’t think the idea that the wealthy need to pay their fair share is going away–the majority of Americans support it. Republicans are committed to protecting billionaires even if they have to raise taxes on the middle class to do it,” he says.

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Boehner Clock Urges Democrats to Pass GOP Payroll Tax Plan

The office of U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Oh., released a “countdown clock” on Tuesday to urge Senate Democrats to pass the Republican-sponsored bill extending the payroll tax cuts.

The House approved the legislation by a 234-to-193 vote last night, despite a veto threat from President Obama and a pledge by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nv., that the bill will be rejected due to certain GOP add-on provisions.

The clock is counting down to the December 31 deadline when the payroll tax cuts will expire, but a deal remains elusive.

According to the White House, failing to extend the tax relief will cost an average worker $1,000 annually, but Boehner says the legislation is a compromise that both sides should accept.

“This package does not include everything Republicans would like, nor does it have all that Democrats have called for, but it is a win for the American people and worthy of the president’s signature,” he says.

The countdown begins:

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House Passes Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Ignoring a veto threat from President Barack Obama, the House has approved a Republican-sponsored bill extending the payroll tax cuts for another year.

The final vote was 234 to 193, with only ten Democrats supporting the bill. It is expected the Democratic-controlled Senate will reject the measure due to certain GOP policy provisions.

U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-In., who voted in favor of the measure, released a statement praising its passage, saying it was a needed step to help a wide range of Americans struggling in the midst of a down economy.

“As our economy continues to stall and unemployment remains above 8%, many Hoosiers are struggling to get by,” said Young. “This bill helps in a variety of ways, whether you’re unemployed, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, or retired and depend on government programs like Medicare to pay for health care.”

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Yarmuth Opposes Riders on GOP Payroll Tax Plan

Pledging to vote against the Republican sponsored payroll tax plan, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky. denounced the legislation for making fundamental changes to key programs without debate.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., predicted the roughly $180 billion bill will pass the GOP-controlled House with bipartisan support.

One provision includes speeding up federal approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has become a dividing issue for proponents who want to extend the middle-class tax cuts. But Democratic opposition has picked up over other additions as well and observers are beginning to count the vote more closely.

Yarmuth says there are several philosophical riders in the bill that have nothing to do with keeping the tax relief for another year, such as environmental protections and unemployment protections.

“The Republican plan changes the way unemployment benefits are structured, it reduces the number of weeks of eligibility and it puts new constraints on those who have been laid off. Just one after another it raises these very ideological points for Republicans and conservatives without absolutely any discussion, debate or analysis,” he says.

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McConnell Urges Passage of GOP Payroll Tax Plan

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., urged the House to pass a Republican plan that extends the payroll tax cut.

But the legislation includes wording to speed up federal approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which has become a dividing issue.

The 1,700-mile link would bring oil from Alberta, Canada to Texas, but the project has been held up by the State Department due to concerns from environmentalists, who say the pipeline will damage delicate ecosystems and increase pollution associated with burning oil. The GOP plan has now since been criticized for adding that “ideological candy” to the bill, but McConnell says the measure extends the temporary tax relief for workers as well as unemployment benefits.

“So it was surprising to say the least to read this morning that President Obama and Majority Leader Harry Reid are now plotting to block this very legislation over the inclusion of a job-creating measure that the president thinks will complicate his reelection chances next year. That’s what’s happening in Washington this week—and the American people need to know about it,” he says.