By John Boehner
Our struggling economy weighs on the minds of many Americans this holiday season. They’re worried about their families and futures, and looking to Washington to find common ground to help create jobs.
This fall, President Obama called for a year-long extension of the payroll tax cut, and the House passed a year-long extension, with bipartisan support. Our bill would also extend and reform unemployment insurance, protect seniors’ access to doctors through Medicare, and help create jobs. Unfortunately, instead of passing the House bill or any other year-long extension, Democratic leaders in the Senate passed a two-month measure and left town for the holidays.
ON POLITICS: House rejects payroll tax cut, jobless benefits
Washington doesn’t get to punt on this one.
The president and the House are right to want to extend this tax cut a full year, rather than two months. Having run a small business, met a payroll, and hired workers, I’ve seen first-hand how Washington’s Band-Aids and gimmicks cause further uncertainty for employers and employees alike. The idea that the federal government can set tax rates in two-month increments without doing any harm is exactly the kind of Washington thinking that has helped run our economy off the tracks.
Don’t take my word for it. Non-partisan payroll tax experts have told Congress that a two-month extension is “unworkable,” and that it “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”
Just as important, hardworking taxpayers trying to make ends meet or save for college or retirement deserve to know what their paychecks will look like for the whole year — not just an eight-week stretch.
The American people expect Congress to pass a one-year extension, and we should not wait to finish this work. We should complete it immediately.
That’s why the House has voted to begin a formal conference committee to resolve the differences between the House and Senate bills. There’s nothing unusual about this. This is the system our Founders gave us. It’s as old as our nation, as clear as our Constitution. Republicans have appointed eight lawmakers to this conference committee, and they are in Washington now, ready to meet.
Despite all this, Senate Democrats are refusing to return from vacation and negotiate with the House. We hope the president, who has repeatedly said he won’t go on vacation until this matter is resolved, will urge Senate Democrats to change their minds. He should call on them to appoint negotiators so we can extend payroll tax relief for a full year and help create jobs. Otherwise, Senate Democrats’ refusal to negotiate means Americans’ taxes going up on Jan. 1. It should not come to that, and I’m confident it won’t.
When hardworking taxpayers have work to finish, they don’t knock off early. They stay and get the job done. Let’s follow their example and come together to do the right thing for our economy and our country.