Congresswoman Chellie Pingree plans to vote against a proposal today that would pay for an extension of payroll tax cuts, physician reimbursement rates, and unemployment benefits by raiding funds for public health, raising Medicare premiums for seniors, and cutting benefits for the unemployed.
"I was very disappointed to see this proposal because its contents are so deliberately inflammatory. If this was meant to be taken seriously, it wouldn't have elements totally unrelated to the problem at hand," said Pingree. "The clock is ticking for millions of Americans who are unemployed or need a little extra money in their paychecks during this tough time. But here we are playing politics when we should be considering a serious proposal to get the job done."
Scheduled for a vote later today, the Republican proposal would extend a payroll tax cut and federal benefits for the unemployed for another year, but would pay for them by:
· Raiding a trust fund created to support prevention and public health programs;
· Cutting benefits for many people who are already unemployed, including several thousand in Maine; and
· Raising Medicare premiums for certain seniors.
The legislation also pushes through the Keystone Pipeline project, rolls back clean-air regulations, and institutes invasive tests for those who collect unemployment benefits. If passed in the House, it is not expected to pass the Senate.
"This legislation represents an egregious misplacement of priorities," said Pingree. "Once again, legitimate programs are being held hostage for political gain and special interests. It's wrong and unfair to ask those who need help the most to pay up and sacrifice more while millionaires and billionaires remain protected. It's bad for families and terrible for the health of the economy."