Senate, House At Impasse On Payroll Tax Timing
The standoff, which also holds up a fix for the reimbursement rates for doctors, could have stiff political ramifications.
The Los Angeles Times: U.S. Leaders Say They Are Hard At Work On Payroll Tax
With no endgame in sight to prevent a looming payroll tax hike, President Obama and congressional leaders took turns trying to convince Americans that they were hard at work to save the tax break — even though Congress has essentially closed for the holidays. ... But finding consensus is easier said than done. Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over how to pay for the legislation. ... The package would extend the 2-percentage-point reduction on the payroll tax workers contribute to Social Security. ... It also would continue unemployment insurance for 3 million jobless Americans and shield doctors who treat Medicare patients from a 20% pay cut (Mascaro and Hennessey, 12/21).
The New York Times: Obama Gets A Lift From Tax Battle With Republicans
After a long stretch of high unemployment, legislative turmoil and, in turn, slipping public approval, President Obama seemed to regain his political footing this week with the help of House Republicans, whose handling of a standoff over payroll taxes had even leading conservatives accusing them of bungling the politically charged issue (Calmes, 12/21).
The Washington Post: House Republicans Face Pressure On Extension Of Payroll Tax Cut
Obama called [House Speaker John] Boehner on Wednesday to urge him again to allow a vote on the Senate-passed measure, which also would extend unemployment benefits and avert a cut in the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat Medicare patients. ... Boehner showed no signs of caving to the pressure, either from Obama or his own allies (Kane, 12/21).
Politico: Payroll Tax Cut: GOP Frosh Dig In Hard
The freshmen argued that a one year extension is vastly preferable to a two-month extension (never mind that some in their party didn’t and don’t want to see the payroll tax holiday extended at all) and that they want an agreement between the House and Senate that provides certainty to middle class taxpayers and to the patients and physicians hoping Congress would come through a fix to Medicare reimbursement rates. ... They were defiant—even as friendly venues like the Wall Street Journal editorial page took House Republicans to task for what they called a political "fiasco" (Cogan, 12/21).
Reuters: Scenarios: Payroll Tax Break Fate Uncertain
If Congress fails to act by December 31, Congress could return to Washington in early January to sort out the conflict and make the payroll tax break retroactive to January 1. Also tied to the payroll tax bill are an extension of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed and a provision to avert a pay cut for doctors treating patients on the Medicare health program for the elderly. Any resolution would also make those provisions retroactive to January 1. It has been done before on unemployment benefits, doctors' payments and other tax issues. This scenario is likely if the standoff spills over into the new year (Smith, 12/21).