Colorado Democrats Thursday joined the Obama administration in going after Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney for calling a payroll tax extension for 160 million Americans a “temporary little Band-Aid.”An estimated $1,000 tax hike per family is looming at the end of the year if House Republicans continue to dig in their heels and reject a Senate compromise that extended the lower payroll tax rate for two more months and continued unemployment benefits set to expire for another 2.3 million Americans (35,000 in the Denver metro area).
“This whole tragedy is really Mitt Romney ruining Christmas for 160 million Americans,” U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, said early Thursday on a conference call with reporters. “This is typical of the tax-and-spend Republican Party. They’re interested in raising taxes on the middle class. They show no interest in lifting a finger to maintain this thousand-dollar tax benefit for middle class families.”
Romney has largely avoided the stalemate, which heated up Tuesday when House Republicans rejected a Senate compromise that was passed by a vote of 89-10 on Saturday – with 39 Senate Republicans voting in favor of the two-month extension. House Speaker John Boehner said the GOP insists on a one-year deal and that Congress should stay in session.
Romney has tried to stay out of what he called the “congressional sausage-making process,” instead trying to deflect blame toward President Barack Obama. But the Obama administration has jumped on Romney’s dodging of the issue, and even GOP rivals have joined in. Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called staying out of the fray a “timidity of calculation.”
Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, agreed.
“There’s a lack of leadership here in the House on the part of the majority, and I have to tell you there seems to be a lack of leadership at the national level among the Republican candidates running for president,” Udall told reporters Thursday.
“Mitt Romney has dismissed the payroll tax cut as “a little Band-Aid,” but it’s beyond interesting to me that his home-state [Massachusetts] Republican senator, my colleague, my friend Scott Brown, has come out strongly in support of the Senate position and the Senate bill,” he added.
Brown issued this statement right after the House vote on Tuesday:
“It angers me that House Republicans would rather continue playing politics than find solutions. Their actions will hurt American families and be detrimental to our fragile economy. We are Americans first; now is not the time for drawing lines in the sand.”
Colorado U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Denver Democrat, again blasted the intransigence of her Republican House colleagues on Thursday.
“One thing we’ve been hearing the American public say ever since the [budget] debacle of last summer is we need to have our elected officials compromising,” DeGette said. “What the tea party Republicans kind of forced the Republican caucus to do was reject the entire compromise.”
Democrats and many Senate Republicans say the two-month extension is necessary to work out a full one-year extension, and that all the many details cannot be ironed out in the nine days remaining before the end of the year.
After calling for the Senate to work through the break and come up with a better bill, Colorado’s four Republican House members were quiet on the issue on Thursday.