CommunityThe Bullpen

Romney Undermines House Republicans, Says Payroll Tax Cut Should Be Extended

The near-term stage has been set on the payroll tax cut. The Senate will hold a vote on compromise legislation that reduces the size of the cut and uses a variety of offsets to shrink the millionaire’s surtax, which now has a sunset, to 1.9%. The House will introduce today the bill that Senate Republicans failed to pass last week, which offsets an extension of the current payroll tax cut with means testing for Medicare and cuts to the federal workforce. Both House Republicans and Senate Democrats want to find a bill and pass it through their chamber to set the terms of the endgame negotiation.

Democrats got a boost on that endgame when Mitt Romney reversed himself (shocker) and came out in support of extending the tax cut. Earlier, Romney had called the extension a “temporary little Band-Aid” in a debate. Now, he endorsed the Band-Aid.

“I would like to see the payroll tax cut extended because I know that working families are really feeling the pinch right now — middle-class Americans are having a hard time,” he told radio host Michael Medved.

Republicans have paid lip service to the struggles of working families and the need to extend the tax cut for a while now, so this is nothing new. But we’re at a point where Congress has their attention focused, and Romney gives a powerful talking point to Democrats wanting to get this done.

It’s completely true that the government should borrow money for free rather than get hung up on how to pay for this tax relief. The main debate right now revolves around counter-productive and unnecessary offsets. Borrowing is cheaper right now than taxing people for the money or cutting spending to afford it. This is just a math equation.

But I don’t think you can totally say that both sides agree in principle that the tax cut should be extended. Indeed, Republicans have tied themselves in knots recently seeking justification for the proposition that it should NOT be extended. They would rather see a fiscal drag on the economy in an election year. They’re trying to walk a line between outright saying that and blaming Democrats for not accepting their offsets and allowing taxes to rise. But when a leading Republican Presidential candidate comes out and undermines that maneuver, just casually stating that the tax cut should be extended, it puts pressure on Republicans trying to walk this high wire. Especially when he reverses himself to do it.

Previous post

Occupy Our Homes: Today the Foreclosure Crisis Moves to the Top of the Agenda

Next post

Full Details of New Payroll Tax Cut Legislation Released

David Dayen

David Dayen