Congress may have come to an agreement on a $1 trillion bill to keep the government funded beyond midnight (when the current round of funding runs out), but there is significantly less common ground on extending the soon-to-expire payroll tax cut. Democrats, in an attempt to prevent a tax increase on working Americans come year end, have dropped their demand that the extension be paid for via a tiny surtax on income in excess of $1 million.
So does that mean Republicans have dropped their demand that an extension be tied to the approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline? Of course not:
House Speaker John A. Boehner said Friday that his chamber will not sign off on an extension of the payroll tax cut sought by President Obama without including a provision to speed construction of an oil pipeline, which Obama has opposed…“If that bill comes over to us, we will make changes to it, and I will guarantee you that the Keystone pipeline will be in there when it goes back to the United States Senate,” Boehner said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined in, saying, “Frankly, I will not be able to support a package that doesn’t include the pipeline.” Republicans claim that the oil pipeline will be a job creator, but the only independent analysis into the pipeline found that just 500 to 1400 temporary construction jobs will be created, “with a negative long-term economic impact.”
In order to attain its beloved pipeline, the GOP is willing to raise taxes on 113 million households next year, costing the average family $1000. At the same time, the GOP adamantly refused to consider a surtax on the very wealthiest Americans. This has become the standard operating procedure for the GOP this year: exploit expiring provisions (or the imminent expiration of U.S. credit) to force through a conservative agenda. In this instance, it’s middle-class taxpayers or the environment that suffers if Republicans get their way.