Payroll Tax Cut Regional Editorial Roundup: Round 2

In nine days,160 million working Americans will see their taxes go up if House Republicans fail to acton a bipartisan agreement.  Additionally, if Congress fails to act, 2.5 million Americans will no longer receive their unemployment insurance benefits. The President refuses to let that happen.

The President believes the only viable option to ensure millions of middle class families aren’t hit with a tax hike is if the House of Representatives takes up the bipartisan compromise that passed in the Senate with nearly 90 percent support, including 39 votes from Senate Republicans.  If House Republicans refuse to take up this bill, 160 million Americans will see their taxes increase.

This isn’t about scoring political points, or trying to figure out who’s winning or losing the debate in Washington.  This isn’t high-stakes poker.  It’s about the livelihood of millions Americans across the nation.  It’s about an extra $40 in each paycheck.  It’s about being able to afford that extra tank of gas or putting food on the table.  If House Republicans refuse to do their job, they’ll put the squeeze on millions of middle class families at a time when they can least afford it. 

Yesterday, local newspapers weighed in on the debate.  Their message was clear: House Republicans should come to their senses and extend the payroll tax cut.  No more games. The American people have had enough.  It’s time to get to work and do what’s right for the American people.  Today, even more local papers are adding their voices.  Let’s take a look:

Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN):  House GOP fails American workers

Without a deal by the end of the year, 160 million Americans will see tax increases. Not only would that pinch hurt individual taxpayers, it would be a blow for a country still struggling to recover from a steep economic slide.  House GOP leaders deserve the blame for this latest Washington fiasco. Their political brinkmanship is so off the charts that even leading Senate Republicans are blasting them.

Tampa Bay Tribune (FL):  House Republicans Pick Party Over Nation

If your taxes go up 10 days from now, you will know whom to blame: U.S. House Republicans, including all of those in Florida and Tampa Bay. They are the ones who failed to support bipartisan legislation to extend the payroll tax cut that was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate. They are the ones who rejected an extension of long-term unemployment benefits for 3 million Americans. And they are the ones who should be held accountable in the next election for their callous indifference to the needs of their constituents.

Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH):  Farce and tragedy attend Congress's "work" on payroll tax cut extension

Far worse than the impact on Congress's deservedly tattered reputation is the prospect of smaller paychecks for 160 million Americans and an abrupt end to help for almost 2 million people who have been out of work for more than six months. Their responsibility to those people alone ought to bring Speaker John Boehner and his majority House Republicans to their senses, but as of this writing there's little evidence of that.

St. Louis Post Dispatch (MO): House Republicans throw their party off the ideological cliff

Who would have thought Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives would give President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party such a lovely holiday gift even as they hand American workers a lump of coal? It's enough to warm the cockles of your heart, even as it fries your brain.

Raleigh News & Observer (NC): Tax hike tangle

Wonderful. Just wonderful. Republicans who control the U.S. House are so set on having their own way, and on trying to make President Obama and his Democratic allies look bad, that they are setting the stage for a tax increase that could affect every working American.

Unless Democrats agree to a GOP wish list, then workers' payroll tax for Social Security will jump after the first of the year from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent. For someone making $50,000 a year, that would mean a cool grand sucked right out of their annual pay and more than likely right out of the economy.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA): GOP tax hike: House holdouts show contempt for the people

The framers of the American system of government, with its division of powers, assumed that the art of compromise would make it work and be an antidote to gridlock. They assumed too much. Today a stubborn group of tea-party-backed lawmakers would rather bring down the country than concede one inch.

In their departure from normal politics, they almost succeeded in pushing the nation into default this year, a calamity that was narrowly averted. Now they want to drop a big piece of coal in everyone's Christmas stockings.

South Florida Sun Sentinel (FL): Congress has earned Americans' disdain

The payroll tax is only the latest case of Washington's preference for political posturing over problem solving. The current stalemate was preceded by others over deficit reduction, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, job creation, the federal debt ceiling, the Federal Aviation Administration and scores of judicial nominations.

It's little wonder that a CBS News/New York Times poll pegged lawmakers' approval rating at just 9 percent. That's worse than the 16 percent approval rating in the same poll for BP's handling of last year's massive Gulf oil spill. Really.

Star-Ledger (NJ): House Republicans show they favor wealthy over middle class

Give Speaker John Boehner credit for this much: His spin on the House’s refusal to extend the payroll tax cut is clever politics, even if it is untrue.

Boehner wants us to believe that the House is all for the extension, but wants to ensure it lasts the full year, not just two months, as in the Senate compromise. By this telling, the House is even more determined to get this done than the Senate.

Baltimore Sun (MD):  The GOP Tax Hike

Unless House Republicans come to their senses, it now seems likely that about 160 million Americans are about to get a tax increase that amounts to $1,000 for the average household and could knock down U.S. projected economic growth next year (already expected to be modest) by 25 percent.  How absolutely insane is that?

If the GOP devised a plan to make themselves look more irresponsible or more disinterested in the plight of average Americans and their thought-process more disordered, they could scarcely have devised anything more nefariously effective than what has happened in recent days to the proposed extension of the payroll tax break.

San Jose Mercury News (CA):  House GOP's inaction could cripple US recovery

The failure to keep the tax cut and unemployment benefits in place is a blunder bordering on recklessness. If it is not remedied quickly, it could accelerate mortgage foreclosures and other drains on the U.S. economy, not to mention upping the quotient of human suffering. This alone raises the risk that the U.S. could fall back into a double-dip recession, according to many economists. And if Europe fails to resolve its economic crisis, compounding the U.S. weakness, it could trigger a deeper global recession.

San Francisco Chronicle (CA):  House Republicans should pass payroll tax cut

House Republicans overplayed their hand by using a tax break that affects 160 million Americans to gain an edge over Democrats. They should pass the temporary extension and return early next year to work out a long-term solution in a more rational atmosphere.

Dallas News (TX):  Boehner, House GOP stumble over tax-cut politics

Who says bipartisanship is dead? In the giving spirit of the season, as the TV commercials remind us, House Republicans handed their Democratic rivals a priceless treasure:  A stick with which to beat them over the head.

While we’re at it, let’s remember something for House Speaker John Boehner. A book, perhaps: Politics for Dummies.

It’s stunning how Boehner and his House caucus so fumbled what was at worst a tie and possibly a victory on the question of extending the payroll tax cut.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX):  Congress failed by not passing payroll tax holiday bill

Most of the federal lawmakers are home for the holidays. They need a reminder from the people who put them into office that they were sent to Washington to represent the folks at home . . . Don't let the year end without doing what is right for Texans and America.

Chicago Sun Times (IL): Stand tough on payroll tax cut, Mr. President

Don’t give an inch, Mr. President.

If the House fails to vote on a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut that keeps an extra $1,000 a year in the pocket of working people during hard times, the country will know who is to blame — extremist House Republicans. It is time for the tail to stop wagging the dog.

Salt Lake Tribune (UT): Payroll tax mess

Look all around Washington and it will be difficult to find someone who overtly opposes an extension of the current reduction in the federal payroll tax. Yet, as this is written, it seems increasingly likely that this tax cut, the one that provides the most benefit to struggling families and has the greatest potential to light at least a small fire under the limping economy, may be about to die.

Fresno Bee (CA): House GOP Grinches have one last chance to fix this

Not even the holiday spirit can break the nasty political gridlock in the nation's capital.

House Republicans urged the Senate to craft a bipartisan compromise to extend a temporary payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment benefits that expire on Dec. 31. But then they refused to bring the resulting deal to the House floor for an up-or-down vote. Instead, they voted to send the bill to "conference" -- a delaying tactic that will hurt every American worker who gets a paycheck.

Sacramento Bee (CA): House GOP casts itself as the Grinch

Not even holiday spirit, it seems, can break gridlock in the nation's capital.

House Republicans refused to do an up-or-down vote on a bipartisan Senate compromise to extend a payroll tax holiday and emergency unemployment benefits that expire Dec. 31. That stopgap bill – paid for by higher fees on mortgage lenders – would give Congress time to hash out how to pay for a longer-term extension.

The Oregonian (OR): Happy holidays from Congress

House Republicans give Americans the gift of an empty political gesture and potentially an ill-timed increase in their Social Security payroll taxes

Tell us that wasn't Oregon Congressman Greg Walden in the middle of the hollow photo-op Wednesday when House GOP leaders posed as eager to negotiate a one-year payroll tax deal. We'd hoped there wasn't a member of the Oregon delegation within a thousand miles of the payroll tax fiasco.

Long Beach Press Telegram (CA): The gift of gridlock

REPUBLICANS used to have a pretty good brand. They were the party of lower taxes. Democrats used to have a pretty good brand. They were the party of working people. That was once upon a time. Now? They're the parties of letting taxes go up for working people. At Christmas.

Durango Herald (CO): Politics and payroll tax cut extension

Grinches in the House cut workers’ paychecks

The Republicans in control of the House of Representatives outdid themselves this week. In a politically tone-deaf trifecta, they refused to extend the payroll tax cut, agreed to allow unemployment benefits for more than 3 million jobless workers to expire and handed President Barack Obama a political victory.

Josh Earnest is Principal Deputy Press Secretary
Related Topics: Economy, Taxes, Florida, Oregon
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