This afternoon, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) appointed eight Republican lawmakers to serve on a bicameral conference committee meant to resolve the impasse over the soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, after the House rejected the Senate’s version of an extension today. It’s unclear whether a committee will even convene, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) have said they’ll refuse to appoint anyone to the committee unless Boehner allows a normal up-or-down vote in the House on the Senate bill (so far, they’ve only voted on a measure to reject the bill).
Boehner and the Republican leadership say they want a full year extension of the payroll tax holiday, but as Senate Democratic aide Brian Fallon pointed out, many of the members Boehner appointed to the conference committee have voiced opposition to the concept of a payroll tax cut in the past:
Reps. Dave Camp (R-MI): Asked about a payroll tax holiday extension in June, Camp said, “I’m not in favor of that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. We need a more overarching approach to our tax policy,” Camp said, calling the holiday “piecemeal.”
Rep Kevin Brady (R-TX): Last week on Bloomberg News, Brady said, “I’m not as big a fan of the payroll tax cut, or any frankly, temporary cuts do no have the economic bang for the buck. And the payroll tax cut, just like the other rebates, has had a marginal impact, at best.”
Rep. Tom Price (R-GA): Asked about the payroll tax cut in September, Price replied, “it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It’s a good nugget from a rhetorical standpoint, for the class warfare that he seems intent on fighting.”
Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC): In late November, Ellmers said, “Payroll tax holiday, yeah sure, that’s okay… We don’t need more gimmicks.”
Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY): Earlier this month, Reed said, “I would like us to look at alternative options. Such as reducing income tax rates so that middle class, hard working Americans get the benefit of a lower tax burden so we preserve social security and Medicare.”
And it’s not just the conferees. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) called the payroll tax holiday “sugar-high economics,” while House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said he “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”