12.22.2011 0

Your Taxes Are Going Up on New Year’s

By Robert Romano — It’s very clear now that the current payroll tax holiday is going to expire come New Year’s Day, and taxes of 140.5 million Americans who work for a living are going to increase.  The only question outstanding is who to blame.

For that, one need look no further than the U.S. Senate, which dropped a mere two-month extension on the House at the last minute and skipped town, daring Republicans to defeat it.  Mind you, the House is under no more obligation to pass the Senate’s version of the legislation than the Senate is to pass the House’s version.

Having already passed its version of the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits extension at a cost of $180 billion, instead the House voted to convene a conference committee — effectively calling the Senate’s bluff.

“This stalemate is the fault of Reid, the liberal Democrats and Obama for refusing to deal honestly with the House-passed measure to resolve the problem,” said Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson, who supported House Republicans’ call for a conference committee to hash out differences between the House and Senate bills.

“Whether one agrees with extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits or not, the clear constitutional procedure when there are differences between House and Senate legislation is to convene a conference committee,” Wilson explained.

He said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had “no excuse for keeping the American people in the dark about what their effective taxes are going to be once the New Year begins.”

Reid has already declared there will be no conference committee.  Said Reid, “I have been trying to negotiate a yearlong extension with Republicans for weeks, and I am happy to continue doing so as soon as the House of Representatives passes the bipartisan [Senate] compromise to protect middle-class families, but not before then.”

So, that’s that.  Americans will see more money taken out of their pay checks in January.  All because Harry Reid thought his vacation was more important than reaching a deal before year’s end.

At least one member of the conference committee thinks Reid may be bluffing.  “I think they want to be responsible about this — all we’re saying is we want to sit down and work out the differences — that’s what a conference is all about,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) told The Hill.

Wilson implored Reid to get back to town and get back to work.  “This could easily be resolved before year’s end, but Reid, for the moment, seems to prefer to pretend there is no such thing as a conference committee.”

“He should do his job and immediately name Senate conferees to get to work, or else he’ll have nobody to blame but himself come January,” Wilson concluded.

So far, House Republicans have stuck to their guns in demanding a conference committee.  Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, noted to the Huffington Post that “The President has said he won’t go on vacation until this is done.”

If Obama is sincere, he will push Reid to appoint conferees right now.  Instead, if he goes off on vacation in a huff, it will begin to look curious why Republicans are still in town, giving press conferences on Christmas Day, still trying to work on a compromise.  Then the question will become: Who’s engaged in brinksmanship, and who’s actually trying to strike a deal before the end of the year?

So, perhaps Obama will cave.  But don’t bet on it.  Reid does not sound like he’s bluffing.  Which means you better get prepared for the payroll tax holiday to finally end — over the holidays.  Now you know who to blame for the impasse.  Here’s a hint: It’s the person who walks away from the table.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor for Americans for Limited Government.

Copyright © 2008-2021 Americans for Limited Government