As Democrats continue to push a renewal of the payroll tax cut included in last year’s deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, members of the Republican Party have reportedly grown concerned that if they do not go along with the proposal, they will lose their reputation as anti-tax zealots and get painted as defenders of the richest Americans. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl (R), apparently, is not one of those Republicans.
Speaking on the Senate floor this afternoon, Kyl blasted the plan put forth today by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), which would partially pay for the extension by instituting a temporary surtax on Americans whose incomes top $1 million. Despite outlining his perceived problems with the plan, however, Kyl said he could be persuaded to vote for an extension — but only if Democrats agreed to again extend the 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans:
KYL: It was part of an overall agreement in which we said we will extend all of the existing tax rates — the so-called Bush tax cuts, that is the rates that have been in effect since 2001 and 2003, we would extend this temporary tax holiday from the payroll tax cut, we would extend all of those. And I supported that. That frankly was the right thing to do, to extend all of these existing rates. … Now if we can do that again, I’m all for it. I’ll support the extension of the payroll tax holiday.
The payroll tax cut extension as proposed by Democrats would ensure that, at a time when the middle- and working-classes are still inching toward recovery, the average household would pocket an extra $1,000 a year. Meanwhile, in Kyl’s home state of Arizona, the millionaires’ surtax used to pay for much of the extension would affect just 0.1 percent of all taxpayers — a whopping 3,173 people who bring home an average annual income of $3.5 million, according to a Citizens for Tax Justice analysis. And while proposals exist to pay for the extension, no such plan exists for the Bush tax cuts, despite a 10-year price tag topping $2.5 trillion and no meaningful job creation to show for the cost.
Kyl’s statement is a direct contradiction to comments he made just a year ago during debate about the Bush tax cuts. “My view, and I think most of the people in my party don’t believe that you should ever have to offset a tax cut,” Kyl told reporters in July 2010. Now that it is a Democratic tax cut on the table, however, Kyl not only opposes the Democrats’ attempts to offset the costs, he wants to ensure that the middle class doesn’t get a tax cut unless the wealthiest Americans — whose tax rates are already at historic lows — get one too.