Entries in Payroll Tax Cuts (72)


Obama Signs Payroll Tax Cut Extension into Law

The White House/Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The payroll tax cut extension has officially been signed into law.  President Obama put his John Hancock on the measure Wednesday night.

The "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012" renews the 2 percent reduction in the payroll tax -- which was set to expire at the end of this month -- through Dec. 31, 2012.  It also extends unemployment benefits for up to 73 weeks.

After some uncertainty over whether there would be enough votes to put the deal into play, Congress passed the bill last Friday.

Obama touted the success on Tuesday, calling the legislation a "big deal" that will will help middle class Americans by providing an extra $40 in their paychecks.

“That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas -- which is on a lot of people's minds right now,” he said.

“Congress did the right thing here.  They listened to the voice of the American people.  Each side made a few compromises.  We passed some important reforms to help turn unemployment insurance into re-employment insurance, so that more people get training and the skills they need to get back in a job,” the president continued.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Touts Payroll Tax Cut Compromise

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Tuesday said Congress “did the right thing” by extending the payroll tax cut and he urged lawmakers to “keep going” and act on measures to help the middle class.

“My message to Congress is, don't stop here,” the president said at a White House event highlighting the compromise to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance. “Keep taking the action that people are calling for to keep this economy growing.”

The president urged lawmakers to act on his refinance plan to help underwater homeowners and to make his proposed “Buffett Rule” a reality.  

“This may be an election year, but the American people have no patience for gridlock and just a reflexive partisanship and just paying attention to poll numbers and the next election instead of the next generation and what we can do to strengthen opportunity for all Americans,” Obama said. “Americans don't have the luxury to put off tough decisions, and neither should we.”

The payroll tax cut was a central piece of the jobs plan Obama put forth last September and the White House described it as the last “must-do” piece of legislation ahead of the election.

Calling it a “big deal,” the president Tuesday said the legislation, which he will sign into law when it reaches his desk later this week, will help middle class Americans by providing an extra $40 in their paycheck.

“That $40 helps to pay the rent, the groceries, the rising cost of gas -- which is on a lot of people's minds right now,” Obama said as he stood with Americans who the administration said will benefit from the tax cut.

“Congress did the right thing here. They listened to the voice of the American people. Each side made a few compromises. We passed some important reforms to help turn unemployment insurance into re- employment insurance, so that more people get training and the skills they need to get back in a job,” the president said.

Republicans have questioned the president’s cause for celebration. “It’s not a victory when the economy is still so weak that you feel the need to grant a temporary reduction in the payroll tax,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a written statement. “It’s a victory when this kind of government relief isn’t needed at all. That’s what we should be rooting for. The fact that the President and his allies in Congress can’t see that is all you need to know about their approach to the economy and what they have in store for the future.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pension Perk Takes Hit as Congress Passes Reform Bill

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The payroll tax cut extension that Congress passed Friday won’t affect just the middle class.

Tucked inside the measure that will give 160 million Americans an average $1,000 in tax cuts for the rest of the year is also legislation that reins in pensions for incoming legislators to put them on par with what other federal employees earn.

President Obama plans to sign the bill immediately.

In 2013, all new members of Congress will be treated like other federal workers in computing pensions, according to Fredrick Piccolo, chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., who pushed the reform bill through despite heavy opposition.

Also in 2013, new members and members with less than five years of service will contribute the same increased percentage -- 3.1 percent -- of their income to their pension.

In November, ABC News reported that Congress had a better pension plan than just about anybody, even other federal employees.

A 20-year member of Congress who is at least 62 collects more than $50,000 a year for life. Congress members are also eligible for pensions at 50 if they’ve completed 20 years of service. If they’ve served more than 20 years, they can collect their pension despite their age.

U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., had sponsored the pension reform measure for the last 28 years, but to no avail. He’d even opted out of the pension plan.

In November, Ross, the chair of a subcommittee that had yet to act on the bill, promised ABC News that a hearing would take place before the end of January.

“I would love to see it get up out of committee and on the floor. I think the American people are craving credibility in their elected officials,” Ross said at the time.

Friday, Ross called the idea that Congress should live under the same rules as regular U.S. citizens a “quintessentially American ideal.”

“While there remains much more work to do to ensure that Congress lives under the same rules as our fellow citizens, the American people can be assured that a step has been taken in the direction of accountability and fairness in Washington,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Hails Payroll Tax Cut Passage as ‘Big Deal’

The White House(EVERETT, Wash.) -- President Obama Friday hailed Congress’ extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance benefits as “the right thing” and a “big deal” in a speech on manufacturing at a Boeing assembly facility in Washington state, the largest building in the world by volume.

“Just before we got here, Congress did the right thing, and voted to make sure that taxes won’t go up on middle-class families at the end of this month,” Obama said, “and I’m going to sign this bill right away when I get home."

“That’s a big deal,” Obama added. “And I want to thank Congress for listening to the voices of the American people.”

The president made the remarks after a tour of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners that served as the backdrop for his speech. He praised the planes as a poster child for a resurgence of U.S. manufacturing and exports.

“Here at Boeing, business is booming,” he said. “This company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do.  And the impact of your success goes far beyond the walls of this plant.  Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.”

Obama said what’s happening in Everett can be replicated in other industries and states across the country. He also outlined a series of modest proposals his administration is pushing to encourage U.S. manufacturers.

“If we want an economy that’s built to last, we have to do everything we can to strengthen American manufacturing,” he said, “and make it easier for companies like Boeing to create jobs at home and sell their products abroad.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Senate Dems: Payroll Passage Is Not a Guarantee in the Senate Yet

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democratic leadership cautioned Thursday afternoon that they are not breathing a collective sigh of relief just yet over the payroll tax deal.

At a late afternoon press conference, Senate Democrats waved the red flag, indicating that they believe the votes are not there for the deal to pass yet in the Senate.  They pointed their fingers at Republicans in the Senate who are “withholding their support” of the bill, as it was negotiated late Wednesday night by the conference committee.

Not one Senate Republican on the payroll conference committee has signed off on the agreement, objecting because they believe they were shut out of the final negotiations on the agreement.

“Senate Republicans are MIA,” Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said.

“This is a bipartisan agreement with good things for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said.  “I send a simple message to my Republican colleagues: Let’s get this done as quickly as possible.”

“You have a situation where for once the House Republicans are negotiating a responsible package and standing by it, but the Senate Republican leadership seems to be linking arms with the far right,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY., said.

The next step is for both houses of Congress to pass the agreement, starting with the House of Representatives.  Reid said after the House votes on Friday, the Senate will vote on the bill, likely Friday afternoon.  The bill needs 60 votes to get through the Senate, meaning it can only pass with Republican support.

But Republican support in the Senate isn’t the only thing Reid should worry about.  Two Democratic Senators have already announced their intention to vote against the bill Friday.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA., announced on the Senate floor Friday afternoon that he’ll vote against the payroll tax deal because of debt, and urged his congressional colleagues to “stop digging.”

“I will be voting against the conference report when it comes to the floor of this body tomorrow,” Warner said.  “The payroll tax cut that’s been proposed isn’t being paid for.  It will add $100 billion to the debt.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WVA., also announced on the Senate floor Friday afternoon that the deal will not get his vote.

“I voted for the idea the first time around because I thought as it was proposed to me that it might protect more jobs or save jobs, but I don’t think that we have seen much evidence that that’s happened,” Manchin said.  “So I decided to stop throwing good money after bad and stop jeopardizing Social Security.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lawmakers Sign Off on Payroll Deal

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Negotiators signed off on the bipartisan payroll tax deal Thursday afternoon, paving the way for Congress to approve an extension of the tax credit, plus unemployment insurance and the extension of the so-called "doc fix" for physicians treating Medicare patients.

After coming to terms in the midnight hour early Thursday morning, members of the conference committee gathered in the Capitol with Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., and Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the top two leaders on the panel, to sign the conference report Thursday afternoon.

“We have a majority, a majority of the members. It’s a done deal. It’s done,” Baucus, D-Mont., proclaimed as he flashed two thumbs up to video cameras gathered to capture the moment. “For America! It’s teamwork.”

But so far, no Senate Republicans have signed off on the agreement, objecting because they believe they were shut out of the final negotiations. For some conferees, it was a surprise that no Republican senators had signed off on the deal so far.

“Aren’t they going to sign it?” Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., asked Baucus as they walked out of the conference room after signing the report.

“I don’t think so,” Baucus whispered. “Jon [Kyl] told me he’s not going to do it.”

Camp, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, deflected questions about Senate Republicans resisting the bipartisan compromise, calling the breakthrough a “positive moment” and declining to comment directly about the Senate GOP’s concerns.

“The majority of the House has signed the conference report, so I’ll continue to work with the Senate to see where we are at the end of the day, but I’m glad at least on the House side we have a majority,” Camp said. “The conference report is done and I’m confident that we’ll get the signatures we need to move this to the floor.”

The deal prevents a two-percent tax increase on middle-class families. Over the course of the year, an individual earning $50,000 would enjoy a pay increase by $1,000 as a result of the extension. This aspect of the deal was not offset with spending reductions, adding about $100 billion to the deficit.

Aides close to the negotiations said the deal would also extend the "doc fix" through the end of the year, averting a 27.4-percent cut to physician payment rates and ensuring seniors and the disabled have continued access to the physicians serving our Medicare beneficiaries.

Furthermore, the agreement reforms unemployment insurance depending on the unemployment rate. Most states will receive a maximum of 63 weeks of benefits, compared to 46 states currently receiving 93 weeks of benefits now. But for states with higher unemployment rates, compensation is slowly reduced periodically over the next year, from 99 weeks through May, and up to 73 weeks of relief through December.

The deal also enables states to drug screen and test anyone who lost their job because they failed or refused an employer drug test, or who is seeking a job that generally requires a drug test. To help offset the extension of unemployment insurance, the agreement also requires new civilian federal employees and members of Congress to contribute more towards their defined benefit pension programs.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was also surprised to learn that Senate Republicans felt shut out of the negotiations.

“Everything that I’ve seen they’ve been [as] involved in the process as anybody else,” Boehner said. “There was an awful lot of conversation going on. As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly, there were two or three public meetings where they were all present, so for someone to say they weren’t involved really would surprise me.”

The speaker said that he is working with members on both sides of the aisle to determine how quickly the House could vote to pass the deal. The Senate is expected to vote Friday.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., urged the speaker to bring the bill to the House floor for a vote Friday before Congress skips town for a week-long President’s Day recess.

“It would be important to bring it up tomorrow because I don’t think the American people can wait another day.” Pelosi said. “We should bring it up as soon as possible so all doubt is removed that we will have a tax cut for 160 million Americans, that unemployment insurance will continue for our workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and that seniors can see their doctors under Medicare.”

After battling Democrats for months over the particulars of how to offset the costs of the extensions, Boehner blamed President Obama for failing to repair the economy and leading Congress into a corner where lawmakers had little choice but to pass an economic relief package.

“Let’s be honest. This is an economic relief package, not a bill that’s going to grow the economy and create jobs,” Boehner said. “Last fall, I said that the only reason we’re even talking about a payroll tax break or an extension of unemployment benefits is because the president’s economic policies have failed. I still believe that to be the case today.”

Boehner signaled that he intends to support the agreement, but said the deal would have been unnecessary had the president followed through on his promises to improve the economy.

The speaker criticized the White House for calling the payroll tax credit extension its last must-do item on the president’s agenda before next fall’s election, and he urged President Obama and Senate Democrats to consider more of the GOP’s House-passed legislation that they believe would spur job creation.

“For those of you who haven’t noticed, the president checked out last Labor Day and has been unengaged in leading our country ever since. It’s been one non-stop campaign trip after another,” Boehner said. “He can campaign all he wants, but the Republicans are going to stay focused on jobs and the types of pro-growth policies that will help small businesses grow and put Americans back to work.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Top Negotiators: ‘We Have Reached an Agreement’ on Payroll Tax Measure

Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- The top two negotiators on the payroll tax credit announced early Thursday morning that they have reached a comprehensive, bipartisan deal after months of brinksmanship and tough negotiations.

The top Republican and Democratic negotiators met behind closed doors late into Wednesday evening working out a final agreement.  Finally, at about 12:40 a.m. on Thursday, the duo emerged to break the news to reporters in the Capitol.

“We have reached an agreement,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), the Republican chairman of the conference committee announced.  “We’re at [legislative] council drafting, and with all drafting there are obviously technical issues that come up, but we’re confident that this can be concluded and so we’re here together to announce that we do have an agreement and we’re moving forward.”

“We have an agreement,” Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the Democratic vice chair of the conference committee, echoed.  “A couple of things have to be worked out, but they’re minor and we expect that there will be a final, total result tomorrow.”

The leaders said they were still collecting signatures from the other 18 conferees participating in the conference, but the agreement enables the process to move forward.

“It’s clear that we’ll have a majority of the conferees sign the conference report and we’d like to have them sign it tonight, but we didn’t reach a full agreement until just now,” Baucus said.  “But we have an agreement, and I’m totally convinced and assured -- I’ve talked to conferees.  There will be a majority of conferees will sign.”

Baucus and Camp were unsure how soon the House and Senate could vote to pass the bill, telling reporters those are leadership decisions.  On Wednesday, House Republican leaders said they hoped they could vote by Friday.

The deal will extend the payroll tax credit for another 10 months, reform unemployment insurance and provide a so-called Doc Fix for physicians providing Medicare services.

“This is very important for a lot of people, 160 million Americans, who are now going to maintain their payroll tax cut,” Baucus said.  “Lots of folks who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own are going to receive their unemployment benefits, seniors are going to be able to see their doctors to get Medicare, and it’s good for the country.  Very good for the country.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Payroll Tax Measure: House and Senate Reach Deal

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The House and Senate have reached an agreement on legislation to renew the two-percentage-point cut in the payroll tax as well as jobless benefits for millions of unemployed Americans.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., announced the deal, which has been one of President Obama’s top priorities, late Wednesday night. It is hoped that the deal will be passed off for a vote in the House and Senate this week.

The payroll tax holiday -- which is set to expire at the end of this month -- could continue to save the average worker more than $80 a month, if extended.

“The public wants action, and the economy needs help,” Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told the Miami Herald earlier Wednesday.

Most of the major pieces of the legislation that were disputed are a continuation of current law, including the rates doctors are paid by Medicare, so they go into effect immediately.  There is also a proposed reduction in the maximum unemployment benefits to 73 weeks from 99 for those hardest hit.  

Officials have estimated that another 10-month extension may cost the Treasury about $100 billion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boehner Rebuts Criticism GOP Buckled in Payroll Deal

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As a tentative deal is finalized Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner dismissed criticism that Republicans buckled under pressure and accepted an unfunded extension of the payroll-tax credit. Instead, he blamed Democrats for an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith.

“We were not going to allow the Democrats to continue to play political games and raise taxes on working Americans,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “So we made a decision to bring them to the table so the games would stop and we would get this work done.”

The move to proceed on legislation that extends the payroll-tax credit without offsets has drawn disapproval from some of the speaker’s rank-and-file members.

“I’m not a ‘yes’ right now. It’s bad policy to start off with,” said Rep. Dennis Ross, a freshman Republican from Florida, after he learned details of the potential deal. “Why are we arguing over a middle-class tax cut that has been given to us to reduce the amount that we’re paying into Social Security?”

Asked whether there could be political consequences for Republicans in next fall’s elections for allowing $100 billion to be added to the deficit, the speaker pointed to cuts achieved in the Budget Control Act last summer as proof that the GOP has worked to fulfill its promise to cut spending.

“We’ve worked all year to cut spending,” Boehner said. “When you look at the results from last year, you’ll see $2.1 trillion worth of spending that was cut from the budget, almost all of it on the discretionary side.”

Boehner also emphasized that unemployment insurance is changed and paid for, in addition to offsets for the year-long extension for the so-called Doc Fix for physicians providing Medicare services.

The House Republican rank and file fumed in December when Boehner accepted the Senate’s two-month stop-gap extension even though the House had passed a year-long extension with offsets. The bill was eventually passed by unanimous consent.

Boehner said the House could vote as soon as the end of the week after the conference report is finalized. “They’re just trying to work out all of the details,” Boehner said. “There’s an agreement in principle, but there are a lot of details that are yet to be worked out. I’m hopeful that that will be wrapped up today.”

The White House is not committing President Obama to the payroll tax cut deal until the president sees the fine print. But Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on board Air Force One Wednesday “this is an extremely high priority for him and he welcomes positive signs of progress.”

President Obama is making a three day trip to Western states, mixing economic events and political campaign fundraising.

“We have always believed,” Carney added, “Congress could, and should, handle this issue extending the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and the ‘doc fix’  without drama and without delay and hopefully that is what will happen but obviously we will wait and see what emerges from Congress.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Baucus: Payroll Deal 'Very Close'; Few 'Little Wrinkles' to Iron Out

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., one of the members of the payroll conference committee, said that while a few “wrinkles” remain, negotiators are “very close” to coming to a formal deal to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment insurance, and the “doc fix.”

“We’re there, but what really counts is if we get the job done,” Baucus told reporters Wednesday, “to provide the unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut for Americans. We’re there, there are just a couple little wrinkles that sometimes get in the way but I think they will all be ironed out today.”

Baucus, one of the main negotiators on the Senate side, said he’s “pretty optimistic” that the last few details of the deal will be finished Wednesday.  The Senator admitted that last minute compromise came together in part because of legislators’ acute understanding of how a failure to extend the payroll credit would affect their already tarnished image to Americans.

“I think frankly a lot of people in Washington, D.C., know that Congress is not enjoying such a great reputation and here’s an opportunity to reach an agreement, to show that we can get our work done,” Baucus said.

The payroll tax credits and other two expiring policies are set to expire on February 29.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio