Ooh, talk about efficiency. Here I was totally expecting the Senate to at least pretend to entertain extending the payroll tax cut until tomorrow. Instead, they rushed right into a “no” vote a day early.
The charge was led by Senate Republicans despite statements by House Speaker (R-OH) in support of an extension. Boehner said about the cuts that “there’s no question that the payroll tax relief in fact helps the economy.” His contemporaries don’t appear to agree with Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) telling Fox News Sunday that “the payroll tax holiday has not stimulated job creation.”
The vote on the bill, known as S.1917, was almost entirely along party lines. The bill would have extended the payroll tax cut for workers and expand the cuts to employers. To pay for the cuts, the bill would have imposed a 3.25% surcharge, or “millionaire’s tax”, on those taxpayers with income over $1 million.
A three-fifths majority was required to move the bill forward. Supporters of the bill could only muster 51 votes with 49 of those votes coming from Democrats. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) was the only Republican to vote for the measure while Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) were the only Democrats to vote against it.
The Republicans have offered an alternative plan, sponsored by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), which would extend the payroll tax cuts for one year, paid for by a freeze in federal workers’ pay together with weeding out more federal jobs. That plan, which was introduced yesterday, remains in the Senate. A vote to proceed on the bill failed earlier today by a vote of 20-78.
Despite the back and forth, it’s likely that the payroll tax will probably be voted in by the year end. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wouldn’t rule out an eventual compromise earlier, saying:
It’s important to underscore, however, that the only reason we’re even talking about extending a temporary cut in the payroll tax is because President Obama’s economic policies have failed working Americans.
Considering that Congress has failed to put together any sort of comprehensive economic policy, I don’t know that McConnell is wise to start with the finger pointing. But apparently, judging from the lack of movement in Congress, he doesn’t have anything better to do.