GOP lawmakers say no to a payroll tax cut extension
June 15th, 2011
06:03 PM ET
12 years ago

GOP lawmakers say no to a payroll tax cut extension

(CNN) - Two top Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they don't support extending a payroll tax cut as a way to stimulate the economy -an idea the White House is weighing– because they don't believe it helped create jobs and that money is needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, who both hold GOP leadership positions, told reporters that the current high unemployment rate is proof that short-term stimulus programs, like the payroll tax reduction, don't work.

"I don't sense how this move will install the confidence that small businesses in east Texas and Fortune 50 companies are going to need to take care of the Obama employment gap," Hensarling said.

"We don't need short term gestures, we need long term strategies that build into our system simpler taxes, lower taxes, fewer mandates, lower costs, lower energy costs, more certainty," Alexander said.

The White House said Tuesday it might ask Congress to extend the expiring reduction in an effort to stimulate job growth.

Also Wednesday, negotiations led by Vice President Biden to raise the country's debt ceiling ended with lawmakers saying they were making good progress but were still at least two to three weeks away from an agreement.

"I think our hope would be to wrap up these meetings by the end of the month but again I don't think we have a hard deadline, that's a goal," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, who is taking part in the talks. Van Hollen declined to discuss the specifics of the discussions and refused to say if extending the payroll tax cut came up in their meeting.

Sen. John Kyl of Arizona, one of the Republicans in the talks, was equally mum about what the negotiators discussed. He said the end of the month deadline is "an aspirational date, a goal, a target."

"But there's just a huge amount of work," he said.

Meantime, Democratic senators held a press conference to highlight a vote Tuesday in which more than 33 Republicans voted in favor of eliminating tax breaks for the ethanol industry.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, called it a "watershed moment" because Republicans are usually wary of voting to raise any taxes.

"It means tax expenditures are now fair game in the ongoing deficit reduction talks," he said. "These Republicans broke with right wing interest groups that have sought to protect all forms of taxpayers subsidies no matter if they are necessary or not."

Alexander, who voted to end the ethanol subsidy, said his staff is scouring the tax code for wasteful tax expenditures, especially in the energy sector.

"I think getting rid of unwarranted tax breaks is a good idea," Alexander said. "We have $1.2 trillion in tax expenditures and some of them aren't justified and they're adding to the debt."

However, Hensarling said House Republicans would only support changes – such as eliminating the ethanol credit - as part of a broad tax reform effort.

"We believe the tax code needs to be made fairer, simpler, flatter and that would include cleaning out tax breaks like ethanol," the conservative lawmaker said. "We do not believe particularly at this time in our nation's economic history that we need to have tax increases."

Filed under: Congress • Jeb Hensarling • Lamar Alexander • Taxes
soundoff (41 Responses)
  1. lforlegend

    Always harping about what doesn't work and NO suggestions on anything the might work. Still, where are the JOBS you campaigned on? Bunch of goobers.

    June 15, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    And yet after 10 years of the Bush tax cuts, these same yahoos insist that we extend them permanently because ... wait for it ... they create jobs?

    On what planet do these idiots live?

    If the Bush tax cuts were so darn good for our economy, then WHERE ARE THE JOBS?!?!?

    June 15, 2011 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    "because they don't believe it helped create jobs "

    You mean like the Bush tax cuts that existed before the recession, didn't stop the recession from occurring, existed during the recession, didn't fix the recession or slow it down, didn't create any jobs, but then were extended upon the absolute insistence of the GOP on the basis that they would create jobs and fix the economy, but haven't done so?

    Reality: Economy is tricke-up. The focus needs to be on DEMAND, NOT SUPPLY. More money int he hands of consumers means more spending, which at the very least help shore up retail activity for things like gasoline, groceries, clothes and other necessities and prevents job losses in those sectors...and frequently results in spending in other areas that can result in job growth in other areas. Giving the rich and corporations that are already experiencing record profits more record profits for free, without them having to work for it, compete for it in the market, expand or build the better mouse trap for it...that's just a free increase to the profits and the massive amounts fo capital they are already sitting on and doing nothing with.

    June 15, 2011 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. Mtnjim

    The Repubs want to extend tax breaks, except when President Obama wants to extend a tax break, then the Party of NO is against it.

    June 15, 2011 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  5. Thank God I am a Democrat

    The Repubs starting to raise taxes begins! They all do and this is why I never understood the argument of voting republican for lower taxes. Reagan lowered them in year one. Then raised them 7 times after that as he saw it did not create a favorable outcome. Bush Sr. did it to. Last night Tom Coburn was on The Last Word saying that Grover Norquist is old news and that anyone who thinks that only cuting spending and not raising taxes is going to help is crazy. Look it up if you don't believe it. It was a matter of time for this to begin. They question is how will the Teatards respond to blatant defiance of one of their biggest issues.

    June 15, 2011 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  6. LegendRx

    Not . . . The Republican Party of "No" doesn't work!

    June 15, 2011 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    'the Obama employment gap' Brilliant!!! who created the recession that caused the 'employment gap?" the republicans! and who fought with everything they had to keep Obama from doing the things we needed done to help the recovery even more? again, the republicans! just so they could say during the 2012 presidential race that Obama failed! these thugs threw the country under the bus for the chance to win back the White House. they didn't create jobs when they got the tax cuts from Bush. why is anyone stupid enough to believe they'll create jobs if they get more tax cuts?????? it wouldn't surprise me if the big businesses were holding back in hiring so the unemployment no's would stay high to make Obama look bad. yes, republicans are that evil and self-serving. the payroll tax helps the little guy, so of course the rich fat cats aren't for it. why should any of us be for republicans? anyone who votes republican in 2012 is the biggest fool on the planet!!!

    June 15, 2011 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Dougdc

    Classic – The only way to get R's to oppose a tax cut is to have the President propose it. It shows how unprincipled they really (as if we didn't already know). Also, this one was not a boon to the wealthy, so why bother helping the average person.

    June 15, 2011 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  9. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    So no tax cut for us hard working Americans...just those that have millions. Dems better stand up for us. I will never vote republican again....yes I have, I am from Texas...just not the last two Governors.

    June 15, 2011 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    What happened to the Bush era tax cuts that the GOP says would create jobs. The only job these Republicans have given people is the old fashion "SNOW JOB" and that's putting it nicely, you fill in the rest.

    June 15, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    Ethanol subsidy is an entitlement program, therefore, ending it is NOT raising taxes. GOP/Tea Party politiicians who continue to support ethanol subsidies are hypocrites.

    June 15, 2011 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  12. James B

    There the Republicans go again, "we believe...." They believe extending the payroll tax cuts does nothing for improving our fiscal situation Yet the same argument could very easily be made against extending Bush era tax cuts for the wealthiest tax payers. This is something lawmakers could do relatively quickly that might prove helpful to working americans, but once again defeating Obama is the goal of Republicans. Payroll tax cut exentsions would benefit middle-class average Americans and not corporations. The GOP has clearly decided unemployment is something they want. It makes the 2012 race more competitive and they are not going to do ANYTHING that might improve chances for a recovery. Shameful, simply shameful.

    June 15, 2011 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  13. jimm

    So they won't support extending tax cuts for the working class, but will support tax cuts for the ultra wealthy. Which one will put the money back into the economy???

    June 15, 2011 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Jerry Vinter

    GOP (my former party) simply has it in for the middle class.

    Tax cuts to billionaires at the cost of destroying Medicare somehow create jobs, but tax cuts to middle income payroll earners (who spend basically all of the tax cut) don't.

    This is class war.

    June 15, 2011 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  15. S1N

    Am I in the twilight zone? Democratic president considering asking for tax cut extensions while the Republican law makers want them to go back up? Come on guys, at least both of the parties could keep their lies consistent.

    June 15, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Aaron

    The unimproved economy is also proof that extended tax cuts for the rich and tax breaks for oil companies don't work either, so maybe Alexander and Hensarling should turn down some contributions/bribes and work to get rid of those tax breaks..

    June 15, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  17. Blue19

    So using the same logic, why does the GOP so staunchly insist on tax reductions for the wealthy when there's no proof there is a trickle down benefit?

    June 15, 2011 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  18. Four and The Door

    I am proud of the good sense Republican congressmen are showing in these debates. They absolutely do know what they are doing. Tax cuts that do not add jobs do not make sense for the American economy right now. For those of you who do not understand this, it is basic economics and thank goodness someone in Washington DC understands economics.

    June 15, 2011 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  19. Really?

    Yea, because we need to save money for the tax cut extension for the wealthy.

    June 15, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  20. one voice

    These are the same CROOKS that RUBBER STAMPED the FAILED POLICIES of the BUSH ADMINISTRATION that brought us to this mess and they think things can change in 2 1/2 years. LOOK: We were losing 750,000 jobs per month,stock market tanked and millions were losing their jobs( BEFORE OBAMA EVEN TOOK OFFICE). OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    June 15, 2011 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  21. Jess C

    And apparently extending tax breaks to the top 2% and oil companies hasn't exactly stimulated jobs either. Where are all those "JOBS, JOBS, JOBS" you promised, GOP?

    June 15, 2011 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  22. Ya See Folks, If It Will Help The Economy, It Will Help Obama and . . .

    The Republics want him to fail.

    June 15, 2011 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  23. drogo, the stallion that mounts the world

    If this doesn't make sense neither does any of the other tax cuts republithugs are proposing.

    June 15, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  24. BostonianTheWoodlandsTX

    What are YOUR idea's or solutions Mr Lawmakers ?

    I mean these guys on the right are great for saying NO and all. But what do they propose ?

    Are there really people in the GOp or conservatives so THICK and DUMB as not to see that this current White House has proposed many ideas and solutions,only to be stumped by the GOP.

    If the people of this country elect the GOp to the white house and re-elect them to the senate in 2012,the world will be laughing at us.

    At a time when people can't vote in the middle east, conservatives here are willing to flush the well being of this country down the toilet,becuase they have a personal problem with the president being black.

    I can't see any other reason for all the false 'outrage' and sudden concern for the economy after spending 2001-2008 basically burning TRILLIONS.

    June 15, 2011 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  25. carrotroot

    I am confused back in December the Republicans where absolutely hell-bent on extending the Bush tax cuts, which included a temporary payroll tax cut. They said it would stimulate the economy and provide jobs ... now they are saying it will do no such thing??? The problem is not the size of government, it's the Republican Party itself.

    June 15, 2011 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
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