Endgame on Payroll Tax

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a one-year extension of the payroll tax cut, ensuring taxes did not increase on hard working Americans.  The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act also extended the “doc fix,” extended and reformed unemployment insurance, expedited a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, and increased the mortgage guarantee fee for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The bill was not perfect, but it was worthy of conservative consideration.

Unfortunately, on Saturday, the Senate passed a simple two-month extension and once again demonstrated it was not committed to doing the real work required of Congress.  Rather than stay in town to work towards an agreement on a full-year extension that included some important reforms, Senators chose to head home until January 23, 2012.

This morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) predicted the House would reject the Senate’s stopgap measure and instead reaffirm their position that a full-year extension is the only acceptable outcome.  He said it was “time for Congress to do its work” and there should be “no more kicking the can down the road.”  On this, Heritage Action agrees.

More importantly, for much of the year, conservatives have said House Republicans should not negotiate with themselves; instead, they should wait until the Senate puts an offer on the table.  Finally, after nearly 12 months, the Senate has put an offer on the table.

But an offer is just that – an offer.  The House is not bound to accept it, nor should they; after all, we have two chambers of Congress for a reason.  Speaker Boehner reminded President Obama and obstinate Senators of that this morning:

When there’s a disagreement between the two chambers, we sit down in a conference and resolve those differences, and that’s exactly what I believe the House will do.

Whether through a conference committee, public debate or an open floor process, the Senate should come back and hash out the differences between their two-month extension and the full-year extension passed by the House.  Senate Republicans are willing to return, but Senate Democrats remain obstinate.

House of Representatives must continue to stand its ground, and push for solid conservative policies that will move things to the right.


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