House GOP Political Games Leave Americans At Risk of Tax Hike in 10 Days

The facts are clear:  This is a Republican Do Nothing Congress; a year of missed opportunities and made-up crises.  For 351 days, Republicans have failed to offer a jobs agenda and are now blocking a bipartisan Senate compromise to stop a tax hike on 160 million Americans on January 1.

Democrats have proposed a different path. We are committed to reigniting the American dream by building ladders of opportunity and tearing down barriers to success for anyone willing to work hard, play by the rules, and take responsibility.

Payroll Tax By the Numbers

160 million – Number of Americans who will face a tax hike, averaging $1,000 for the typical family, if House Republicans continue their refusal to take up the bipartisan Senate compromise. [See the impact on your state]

2.2 million—Number of Americans who will lose their unemployment benefits by the middle of February, if House GOP continue to block bipartisan Senate compromise. [See the impact on your state]

48 million – Number of seniors that could lose access to their doctors, if House GOP continue to block bipartisan Senate compromise.

83 –Percentage of Senate Republicans who voted for the bipartisan Senate compromise, a short-term extension to get to a long term solution on the payroll tax cut.

229 – Number of House Republicans who voted to reject the bipartisan Senate deal and send the bill to a conference committee.

10 –Number of days until the payroll tax cut expires, along with unemployment insurance and the fix to stop a 27 percent cut in doctors’ reimbursement rate for caring for Medicare patients.

0 – Number of times House Republicans allowed a straight up-or-down vote on the bipartisan Senate compromise to stop a tax hike on January 1.

2 – Number of times House Republicans denied a straight up-or-down vote on the bipartisan Senate compromise to stop a tax hike on January 1. (12/20, 12/21)

6 – Number of times House Republicans have previously voted against urgent consideration of the President’s middle class tax cut, and unemployment insurance for Americans who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, over the last three weeks.  [Vote 870, Vote 889, Vote 902, Vote 918, Vote 922, Vote 925]

600,000 – Number of American jobs lost if payroll tax and unemployment insurance expire next year.

180 – Number of House Democrats who have cosponsored H.R. 3743, the freestanding Senate bill, as this is the only viable way to prevent a tax hike on January 1. With this vehicle, House Republicans could quickly take up the bill, which could be quickly passed by the Senate and signed by the President. 

Senate Republicans on the House GOP Blocking Bipartisan Payroll Tax Cut Bill

Sen. Charles Grassley:  “I’m not going to argue with the House of Representatives, but do they want taxes to go up on January the 1st, or don’t they?” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who voted for the compromise, said in a radio interview Tuesday. “If they don’t do anything, the chances are taxes would go up.”  [12/20/11]

Sen. John McCain: ““It is harming the Republican Party. It is harming the view, if it’s possible anymore, of the American people about Congress. We’ve got to get this resolved and with the realization that the payroll tax cut must remain in effect.”  But Mr. McCain voted for the two-month extension and urged fellow Republicans in the House to “figure out a way through this” to make sure that taxes do not rise next month. “I think we have to recognize reality, and that is that we are not going to see the payroll tax cut expire on the first of January, and we have to accommodate to that reality,” Mr. McCain said. “It would not be fair to the American people at this time.” 12/20/11

Sen. Bob Corker:  “Are Republicans getting killed now in public opinion? There’s no question…  Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with — one more policy blunder — but just get it over with and move on…”. [12/21/11]

Sen. Scott Brown on House GOP vote to send Senate bipartisan bill to conference: “It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions. Their actions will hurt American families and be detrimental to our fragile economy. We are Americans first; now is not the time for drawing lines in the sand. [12/20/11]

Sen. Roger Wicker:  “I’m surprised the House isn’t willing to take a two month time out to do something more lasting.” [12/20/11]

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN): “I’m hopeful, maybe without basis, the House of Representatives will pass the bill the Senate passed and it will do so tonight. Speaker Boehner is under enormous pressure. He’s gotten a lot of feedback from many Republicans who say we just don’t like [the payroll tax cut].  As a matter of fact, many Republicans would say we don’t really want the extension of the unemployment compensation or the rest of it anyway. But I’m hopeful that our majority, Republicans and Democrats today, will proceed, because it seems to me this is best for the country as well as for all the individuals who are affected.”

Senator Scott Brown (R-MA): “The House Republicans’ plan to scuttle the deal to help middle-class families is irresponsible and wrong… The refusal to compromise now threatens to increase taxes on hard-working Americans and stop unemployment benefits for those out of work. During this time of divided government, both parties need to be reasonable and come to the negotiating table in good faith. We cannot allow rigid partisan ideology and unwillingness to compromise stand in the way of working together for the good of the American people.”

Senator Dean Heller (R-NV): “There is no reason to hold up the short-term extension while a more comprehensive deal is being worked out… What is playing out in Washington, DC this week is about political leverage, not about what’s good for the American people.  Congress can work out a solution without stopping the payroll tax cut extension for the middle class, jeopardizing seniors’ access to health care, or threatening unemployment insurance.”

Previous GOP Opposition to Payroll Tax Cut

House Speaker Boehner:  This summer, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called proposals to extend or expand the payroll tax cut “another little short-term gimmick.” [ABC 6/23/11]

Republican Leader Eric Cantor (VA-07):  Republican Leader Cantor “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.” [AP, 8/22/11]

Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (WI-01):  “rejected the idea of making further short-term changes to the payroll tax” and called payroll tax cuts “sugar-high economics.” [The Hill, 6/16/11]

Rep. Pete Sessions, the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee:   “I didn’t change my mind. It [Obama’s plan to extend the payroll tax cut] is a bad idea. But when you combine that with something else — for instance, when we voted the extension of the tax cuts — when you mirror that with something that’s a job stimulus, an economic growth package, then it’s a good deal.” [Washington Post]

Republican Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (MI-04). “I’m not in favor of that. I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Camp said of extending the payroll tax cut. “We need a more overarching approach to our tax policy,” Camp said, calling the payroll tax holiday “piecemeal.” [The Hill, 8/14/11]

Time and Again, Republicans through their Brinkmanship have Manufactured Crises, Creating Economic Uncertainty

Debt Ceiling/Default Crisis — Throughout the summer, Republicans in Washington engaged in brinksmanship with the debt limit in order to insist upon a far-right ideological agenda.  This weakened our economy and led to Standard and Poor’s downgrading the U.S. credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA+.  S&P highlighted, "The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable…. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips.”  There was only one political party that was using the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip.  Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said, “The negotiations that took place over the summer disrupted financial markets and probably the economy as well.” [August 26]

CR – Republicans played politics last spring with the government funding bill — threatening a government shutdown that according to analysts at Goldman Sachs “could shave 0.2 percent off the growth of Gross Domestic Product for every week it continued.” 

FAA Shutdown — Republican intransigence resulted in a 13-day shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration that furloughed tens of thousands of construction workers and thousands of federal employees. House Republicans refused to reauthorize the FAA without including an anti-union provision that would make it harder for workers at airlines and railroads to unionize. Airline inspectors were forced to work without pay during the shutdown.

Destroying American Jobs/Playing Politics with Disaster Relief — In September, Republicans passed legislation that held essential disaster relief hostage, insisting on cuts that would have cost 10,000 good-paying American jobs by slashing Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loans to produce cleaner American cars – a cut opposed by both the Chamber of Commerce  and the National Association of Manufacturers.