House OKs payroll-tax cut bill

Associated Press


The White House promised a veto Tuesday for a Republican bill renewing a payroll-tax cut next year for 160 million workers, complaining that spending cuts that pay for the measure would whack the middle class and require no sacrifice from the rich.

The House passed the bill 234-193 in a roll call Tuesday. The measure would extend Social Security payroll-tax cuts and require construction of a Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.

The veto threat came as the House began debating the bill, which also would extend long-term unemployment benefits and prevent a cut in Medicare payments to doctors. It is virtually certain to die in the Democratic-run Senate.

Obama previously had objected to a provision in the bill forcing work on a proposed oil pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf Coast, which Obama wants to delay.

Tuesday’s veto threat was more strongly worded and broadened his objections to the bill’s unfair treatment of low- and middle-income earners, a theme that has become a dominant one for Democrats as the two parties position themselves for next year’s elections.

“If the president were presented with HR 3630, he would veto the bill,” the statement said, referring to the number of the legislation.

Republicans said the legislation underscored their effort to create jobs and said the Senate could not simply ignore the legislation.

“The Senate can take up our bill and amend it, or they can pass their own bill. But they can’t continue to shirk their responsibility to govern. America can’t wait,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The White House statement said the measure, whose cost exceeds $180 billion, “seeks to put the burden of paying for the bill on working families, while giving a free pass to the wealthiest and to big corporations by protecting their loopholes and subsidies.”

Democratic versions of the legislation, backed by Obama, would have been paid for largely by boosting taxes on people earning more than $1 million annually, a proposal Republicans have ignored.

The House legislation is partly financed by requiring higher earners to pay larger premiums for Medicare and preventing the wealthy from collecting jobless benefits and food stamps.

But far more savings come from other proposals, including extending a pay freeze on civil servants and forcing them to contribute more to their pensions, paring some spending under last year’s health-care overhaul and boosting fees that federally run Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge for backing mortgages.

“This debate should not be about scoring political points. This debate should be about cutting taxes for the middle class,” the White House statement said.

Republicans say that by forcing work on the Keystone XL pipeline and blocking a proposed federal rule curbing some industrial pollution, they can encourage employment at a time when the economy remains on its knees.

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