By: Gary Miller
This week, the House of Representatives returned to Washington to continue work on preventing a tax increase that will impact 160 million Americans. As noted in the previous edition of this newsletter, the House last week passed a fully offset bill to prevent an increase in payroll taxes for one year. The measure also extends and reforms unemployment insurance and delays for two years a drastic cut in payments to Medicare providers, giving Congress and the White House sufficient time to find a permanent fix to the current broken reimbursement system. To promote private sector job creation, the House bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency's job-crushing regulation on boilers and requires the President to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would create thousands of jobs for Americans.
Rather than accept this responsible, bipartisan legislation, the Senate over the weekend voted to extend the tax cut for two months. According to payroll systems experts, this short-term extension would create significant problems and costs for job creators. In addition to this unworkable extension, the Senate amendment would allow the EPA's costly boiler regulation to move forward, while excluding House-passed reforms to the nation's unemployment insurance system. In a move that defies logic, the Senate measure also removes language approved by the House to prevent federal welfare benefits from being used at liquor stores, strip clubs, and casinos. The Senate also chose to kick the can down the road with regards to the "doc fix," delaying the scheduled 27 percent reduction in payments to Medicare providers through February 29th. Rather than delay this decision for another sixty days and create more havoc and uncertainty for job creators, Congressman Miller voted to reject the Senate's changes. The bill is now awaiting consideration by a conference committee, the traditional method for resolving House-Senate differences in legislation. Unfortunately, Senate leaders have rejected calls to come to the negotiating table to ensure that taxes will not go up for millions of workers on January 1st.
For weeks, the President has demanded a one-year extension of the payroll tax holiday. The House of Representatives has voted to do so in a way that does not increase the deficit and addresses other important priorities. As Americans continue to struggle in the worst economic environment for job creation since the Great Depression, the last thing Congress should do is add even more uncertainty on businesses that experts have said will be created by a two month extension. If Senate leadership is serious about continuing tax relief for America's workers and removing obstacles to job creation, they should appoint members to serve and participate in the conference committee to come up with an agreement that is feasible and fully-paid for. As this situation develops, Congressman Miller will continue working with his colleagues to strengthen our economy, prevent tax increases on American workers and job creators, and protect seniors' access to medical care.