Posted by: SWL | December 22, 2011

Congress Breaks Down Over Payroll Tax Holiday Extension

NOTE: I have written that this payroll tax holiday is a bad idea because it keeps needed money out of the Social Security trust fund; my opinion remains unchanged. The following comments are aimed at how the current debate looks to the average person and questions why we are at an impasse over such a small matter.

Congress has been dysfunctional most of the past two years, but the legislative process seems to have completely broken down now. Republicans and Democrats, in the Senate and the House, are acting irrationally.

The House of Representatives passed legislation to extend the payroll tax holiday for another year and sent the bill to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had the legislation amended to extend the tax reduction for only two months. Now Speaker of the House John Boehner has declared that the House will not concur with the amended bill and is asking the Senate to cone back to Washington to pass the legislation with the original one year time frame.

What is the matter with these people? Right now House Republicans look silly. But why did the Senate change the bill so the payroll tax would be reduced for only two months? President Obama has asked Congress to grant a one-year extension, so why would the Democrat-controlled Senate go against his wishes? There has to be some hidden motive.

But why is Speaker Boehner holding up the legislation over this small point? Granted, by the time Congress comes back from their Christmas vacation near the end of January, there won’t be many days left to enact further legislation. But if you are in favor of the extension, seeing that we are very close to the expiration of the current tax reduction, it seems wise to just take what can be had for the moment.

There are more important issues over which Republicans could cast a protest vote. If they must take a stand now, some have said that rather than just saying the House will not pass the Senate version, it would be better politically to amend the Senate version (changing two months to one year) and send it back to the Senate. Senator Reid would then be responsible for making the decision of agreeing or holding up the process.

Extending the tax reduction only two months is difficult to implement, making it bad legislation. But the House Republicans failure to vote on that legislation is bad politics.

Contact your three Congressional representatives, give them your opinion on this payroll tax holiday and tell them to press their leaders for a vote – yes or no, at least we can move on to other matters.

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