On Tuesday, Congressman John Olver voted against H.R. 3630, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011. Brought to the House floor by the Republican majority, H.R. 3630 would extend the current 2 percent payroll tax cut for one year and the Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program until January 2013. The bill pays for these extensions by making cuts to vital programs like Medicare and includes highly controversial, unrelated policy riders.
"This irresponsible bill would do little on balance to support middle-class families," said Congressman John Olver. "I support increasing the Payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance but cannot endorse the Republican offsets. In a bill meant to get simple, basic help to 160 million working Americans hurt by the economic downturn, extremist social policy provisions were added that have little to do with staving off a payroll tax increase or the loss of unemployment benefits."
"I cannot in all good conscious support paying for a tax cut designed to help middle-class families by decimating programs meant to assist those same families," added Congressman Olver. "A balanced approach which asks all Americans to contribute their fair share is needed to continue supporting middle-class families in a fiscally responsible way."
To offset the Payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits extensions, H.R. 3630 would cut $21 billion in healthcare programs in the Affordable Care Act and require millions of seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums; permanently deny unemployment benefits to those applicants without a high school degree unless the benefits are used to pay for getting a GED; and require the Secretary of State to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, among other provisions. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 3630 will add an estimated $25.3 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
H.R. 3630 passed by a vote of 234-193 and now awaits further action in the Senate.