WASHINGTON — The bitter showdown of Republicans versus the White House and congressional Democrats over a Social Security tax break grew uglier and more tense Tuesday, and the result is that 160 million people face the increasingly likely prospect of a tax increase Jan. 1.
The GOP-led House of Representatives, by a 229-193 vote, formally disagreed Tuesday with a bipartisan Senate plan to extend the current tax rate for two months. Employees have paid a 4.2 percent tax this year; it's scheduled to go up to 6.2 percent next year unless the current rate is extended. The House vote makes an increase likely.
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TPM manages to review the events leading to the mess without the "he said, she said" tangle.
This debate started when President Obama introduced his jobs bill, the priciest provisions of which were a one year renewal (and broadening of) this year’s payroll tax holiday, and an extension of emergency unemployment benefits.
Republicans were never wild about moving ahead with either of these items to begin with — but a very public campaign by President Obama made it too politically toxic for GOP leaders to oppose them outright. Instead they just made it as difficult as possible for either to pass. They could’ve agreed to support the measures without paying for them, or to pay for them with war savings, as some Dems to suggest, or with a mix of payfors that included a balanced mix of tax revenue and spending cuts. Likewise they could’ve agreed to pass the measures “cleanly” — without attaching unrelated policy riders to the legislation.
But they did neither. And it created a huge problem.