As Speaker of the House John Boehner prepares for a weekend fundraiser for Rep. Scott Tipton in Aspen, Tipton’s Democratic challenger, Sal Pace, went on the offensive Tuesday, saying he’s had it with a Republican Congress that publicly rails against any and all taxes while quietly working to end a small tax break enjoyed by workers for the past year.
“I can’t understand their logic and rationale at all. How can they say they support working families and not support extending this tax cut?” Pace said about Congressional Republicans in a phone interview.
That tax break, which went into effect this past January, reduced the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for one year. The tax is scheduled to go back to 6.2 percent in January 2012. The payroll tax is designed to fund Social Security and is separate from income taxes. While the working poor often pay no income taxes, nearly everyone who gets a paycheck pays the payroll tax. President Obama has said he would like to extend the cut.
Republicans in Congress have said not so fast.
News flash: Congressional Republicans want to raise your taxes.
Impossible, right? GOP lawmakers are so virulently anti-tax, surely they will fight to prevent a payroll tax increase on virtually every wage-earner starting Jan. 1, right?
Many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different “temporary” tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase.
The tax break extension they oppose is sought by President Barack Obama. Unlike proposed changes in the income tax, this policy helps the 46 percent of all Americans who owe no federal income taxes but who pay a “payroll tax” on practically every dime they earn.
It’s not just Congress, GOP presidential candidates are busy clarifying that when they said they wouldn’t raise taxes, what they meant was that would only raise payroll taxes, because some working people just aren’t paying their fair share.
It’s not news when Jon Huntsman criticizes fellow Republicans. It’s news when he agrees with them. On Sunday, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Huntsman found himself in a virtual love-in with Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann over, of all things, taxes. The paper asked Huntsman if “the half of American households no longer paying income tax–mainly working poor families and seniors–should be brought onto the income tax rolls.”
He agreed, crediting the GOP’s current front-runner for vice president, Sen. Marco Rubio, with the insight that “we don’t have enough people paying taxes in this country.”
Pace said the tax cut helps 2.5 million Colorado families.
“It is shocking and appalling that with all the gridlock in Washington, House Republicans want to force a tax increase on working class families. They fight tooth and nail to cut taxes on billionaires and corporations when what we need to do is protect working people.”
Pace challenged Tipton to talk to Boehner about the need to extend the payroll tax cut for another year. “I challenge him to cross party lines for the first time in his career. I call on him to have courage and to show leadership on this issue. He has the opportunity this weekend to bend Speaker Boehner’s ear and convince him to change his position on this.”
Tipton’s office did not return a call seeking comment.
Pace’s campaign against raising the payroll tax is part of a larger effort being launched by the Democratic Party to support the extension of the tax break.