Republicans want to raise taxes; Democrats don’t

Rep. Jared Polis (Kersgaard)

It must be opposite day. Republicans, many of whom have pledged to not even consider any plan that raises taxes, are clamoring to raise the payroll tax. Democrats, many of whom have said the country can’t be serious about cutting the deficit if taxes can’t be raised, are fighting tooth and nail to keep this year’s payroll tax reduction in place for at least one more year.

State House Minority Leader and current candidate for Scott Tipton’s seat in Congress Sal Pace held a press call on the issue last week and followed that up with a written statement:

“2.5 million Coloradans saved $1.7 billion in income taxes due to President Obama’s payroll tax holiday, and now all of a sudden Washington Republicans don’t know whether or not to support this measure again for 2012.” said Representative Pace. “I wish I could say that I’m shocked or surprised, but this is just typical Washington politics at its worst, out-of-touch, tone-deaf, and ignorant of the interests of the middle class. Extending the payroll tax holiday is a no-brainer, and I hope that Scott Tipton calls on Speaker Boehner when he’s here… to extend this important tax cut for the middle class.”

While Republicans opposed closing any tax loopholes that affect the wealthy during the recent debt ceiling negotiations and many Republican Presidential candidates have signed a pledge to “oppose any and all tax increases,” the payroll tax holiday has provided relief to 160 million middle-class families. Whether Presidential candidates stick to their pledge, and whether Republican leaders in Washington fight as hard for middle-class families as they fought for corporate jet owners, remains to be seen.

Pace is not alone in his insistence that now is the wrong time to raise the payroll tax, which is paid by almost everyone with a job, even low wage workers who often do not pay federal income tax. Colorado Democratic Pary Chair Rick Palacio also issued a statement opposing the tax increase.

“If Speaker Boehner or Congressman Tipton fought half as hard to prevent a middle class tax increase as they did to protect tax loopholes for oil companies and corporate jets, family budgets would be much safer,” said Palacio. “Instead, Republican leadership is doling out rewards to Congressman Tipton for being a loyal Tea Party foot soldier. He has marched in lockstep with Tea Party demands to end Medicare and protect tax breaks for millionaires and well-connected. But jobs and the needs of middle-class families receive no attention from the Tea Party, Republican leadership, or Congressman Tipton.”

Tipton did not return a call seeking comment. Rep. Polis’s office issued a brief statement: “Congressman Polis believes that extending the payroll tax cut makes sense for our economy and for families who are struggling to make ends meet.”

Tomorrow: Talk like a pirate day.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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