Congressional Leaders Push Payroll Tax Cut Deal
Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives are nailing down the details of an agreement on extensions of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, according to the Associated Press, which called the deal a rare consensus.
House Speaker John Boehner is trying to sell his fellow Republicans on the deal, report multiple outlets. He told reporters Wednesday morning that there is an agreement “in principle,” according to Bloomberg.
The plan would extend the two percentage point payroll tax break for workers through Dec. 31 without covering the $94 billion cost, said Representative Kevin Brady of Texas and other lawmakers who attended the meeting.
The plan also would continue expanded unemployment benefits while gradually reducing the maximum number of weeks people can collect payments and avert a 27 percent cut in doctors’ Medicare reimbursements through the rest of this year, Brady and the other lawmakers said. Those would be paid for with reductions elsewhere in the budget.
The decision to not finance the extensions is unlikely to please those staunchly opposed to adding to the national debt to stimulate the economy. Reuters reports that the Boehner wants the details finalized and voted on by the end of the week.
Some commentators, like Howard Gleckman writing for the Christian Science Monitor, are wary of the claim that this is a "temporary" extension and stimulus. "Given the Democrats’ politically successful claim that allowing the tax break to expire was akin to a tax increase, it is hard to imagine them abandoning the provision–or the issue– anytime soon," Gleckman writes.
Clouding the optimism, California Congressman Xavier Beccera told the Huffington Post Wednesday that the deal was still “a long ways” from solidifying. Beccera ought to know a thing or two about gridlock, having been a part of the so-called Super Committee charged with working out a deficit-reduction plan. The committee famously came up with nothing.
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