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Congressional impasse on the payroll tax cut extension

by AirTalk®

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U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) (3rd R), House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) (4th R) and Republican negotiators convene for a conference committee of payroll tax cut negotiation. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The deadlock that continues to hurt an already badly-battered Congress remains. The House Republicans’ decision to reject a bipartisan deal to extend a payroll tax cut has left the party divided and politically bolstered the Democrats. Regardless, if the payroll tax cut expires, the risk to both parties is arguably equal.

A failure to pass the payroll tax cut extension implies a tax increase on 160 million American workers, expiring unemployment benefits for millions more, in addition to a loss of $40 per week for the average American household.

So why won’t Republicans, the party that consistently advocates for lower taxes, refuse to pass a two-month extension of the tax cut? House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) argues their stand is one of principle; Republicans want a year-long extension, not a two-month one as a way to buy time. But many Republicans are now questioning their leadership.

In a year of harsh legislative standoffs, the political repercussions are immense for the party whose plan is to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Today, Boehner called Obama to summon the Senate back and renegotiate, but his offer was rejected by Mr. Obama and Democrats from the House and Senate. Now, Republicans are urging Boehner and other Republican leaders to vote for the Senate bill, saying the ugly clash is damaging their party and Congress.


Will Republican leadership give in? How does this legislative impasse differ from others in the past year? Why won’t Republicans budge and what makes Democrats refuse to come back to the table? What will happen if Congress allows the payroll tax cuts to expire?


David Mark, Senior Editor at Politico and author of "Going Dirty: The Art of Negative Campaigning" (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers)

Congressman Xavier Becerra, (D-CA’s 31st District), is the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and Ranking Member of the Social Security Subcommittee. He was a member of President Obama’s Fiscal Responsibility Commission (aka Simpson/Bowles) and more recently served on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the Super Committee).

Congressman Dan Lungren, (R-CA’s 3rd District) is Chair of the House Administration Committee; he also sits on Homeland Security and Judiciary Committees

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