Congress to Address Jobless Benefits, Payroll Tax Cut After Thanksgiving
November 8, 2011: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
WASHINGTON - Once the Turkey coma wears off, Congress will take up the payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment insurance.
Both are scheduled to run out at the end of the year. Estimated price tag for them is in the neighborhood of $200 billion.
A Democratic aide tells Fox that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev., is planning to bring up a stand-alone bill that will include both provisions.
Following the crash and burn of the Super Committee, there are questions about how Congress will pay for it. Democrats are likely to argue millionaires should pay more in taxes, which Republicans would resist.
But with unemployment at 9 percent, and a sluggish economy, delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., says it must be done. "This is a way to begin afresh, we let everybody down with the super committee, let's begin fresh by giving everybody something we know everybody wants. There can't possibly be any controversy on this one," Norton told Fox.
President Obama has been pushing Congress to keep the average American family from being slapped with a $1000 tax increase. "End of the year, this tax cut ends. And if we allow that to happen -- if Congress refuses to act -- then middle-class families are going to get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time," Mr. Obama said.
In a paper statement, House Speaker John Boehner said, "We told the president in September that we stand ready to have an honest and fruitful discussion with him regarding the payroll tax extension, and that invitation stands."
Ron Bonjean, a long-time Republican Congressional leadership aide says the GOP will likely argue for paying for these extensions, but notes Christmas is just around the corner. "It's going to be very difficult for Republicans to stop a payroll tax cut and advocate an increase on middle income workers," Bonjean said in an interview. "At the same time, it's going to be very difficult for them to stop unemployment insurance as well."
Maya McGuineas from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget offered this prediction: "What you could see happening is instead they just throw in some of the other business tax cuts that are expiring, and it becomes one big Christmas tree for tax cuts and one big agreement not to pay for them because that's really not the fun part, nobody wants to do that."
But does anybody really want to tell the long-term unemployed or American workers "Bah Humbug" heading into an election year?