Budget and Farm Bill Issues
Alexander Bolton and Russell Berman reported yesterday at The Hill Online that, “Senate Democrats and House Republicans on Monday inched closer toward a deal that would extend and expand a payroll tax holiday.
“In hopes of luring GOP defectors, Senate Democrats unveiled a new version of their payroll tax legislation that ditches President Obama’s plan to expand the relief to employers. That move cuts the tax break’s cost from $265 billion to $185 billion.”
The article noted that, “Republican leaders immediately pushed back on the proposal and criticized Democrats for pushing tax increases on individuals and small businesses earning more than $1 million annually.
“But GOP sources hinted the bill might form the basis of a later deal if Democrats agree to drop the surtax on millionaires that would be used to offset the cost of the legislation.”
“The House GOP push to draft its own payroll tax proposal has slowed. Republican leaders faced significant resistance from conservatives during a closed-door conference meeting Friday, and their plan was not released on Monday night, pushing a floor vote to Thursday at the earliest,” The Hill update said.
Meredith Shiner and John Stanton reported today at Roll Call Online that, “Senate Democrats unveiled yet another plan Monday to extend a popular payroll tax holiday, but the political theater surrounding their move — including an appearance by President Barack Obama in the White House briefing room— seemed designed to score a public relations win and increase pressure on the GOP.
“In a concession to Republicans, Democrats dropped a proposed payroll tax break for employers but continued to insist on deeper cuts on the amount employees pay. They also amended their proposal on how to pay for the legislation, adding bipartisan spending cuts as well as means-testing of unemployment and food stamps benefits similar to those offered in a Senate Republican payroll tax cut bill last week.”
The Roll Call writers added that, “The exact composition of that package, and how it might be paid for, is still very much in flux. And lawmakers are hoping the looming Christmas holiday will force their opponents’ hands and prevent either side from tacking on sweeteners for their conferences that could jeopardize final passage.”
And Suzy Khimm reported yesterday at The Wonk Blog (Washington Post Online) that, “Democrats opposed the GOP plan to extend the federal pay freeze until 2015 and slash the workforce by 10 percent. But House Republicans also want to reduce benefits for federal workers’ pension plans — a change that Democrats included in one iteration of the supercommittee, along with cuts to agriculture subsidies and other mandatory federal programs outside of health care. Democrats now say they’re willing to put such cuts on the table yet again to pay for the payroll tax break.
“So there’s certainly room for a deal given these two areas of overlap.”