WASHINGTON -- Without sounding entirely thrilled about it, Rep. Tom Reed has signed onto the bipartisan deal to extend the payroll tax cut through the end of the year while extending unemployment benefits and fixing payments to doctors under Medicare.
Reed, a Republican from Corning who served on the conference committee on the payroll tax issue, said he was disappointed that the deal did not offset the payroll tax cut with spending reductions to cover the cost of the lower levy.
"Not paying for the tax rate is not good policy," Reed said. "But allowing the government to take more of what hardworking taxpayers earn is worse."
Reed blamed Democrats in both the House and Senate for refusing to ensure that the payroll tax cut would be fully paid for, saying he had seen them "summarily reject our reasonable spending cut proposals."
The House is expected to vote today on the compromise, which will keep the payroll tax rate at 4.2 percent, down from the usual 6.2 percent, for the rest of the year. The deal also extends unemployment benefits through the end of the year for many of the long-term unemployed, while averting a 27 percent cut in the Medicare reimbursements that doctors receive.
Reed's full statement is as follows:
“The deal finalized this morning is not perfect, but I support it. This compromise extends the payroll tax holiday for the rest of the year, protects seniors' access to Medicare services by extending and paying for the SGR "doc fix," and reduces the threat to the fiscal health of Social Security by replacing the decrease in funding with offsets from the general fund.
Most importantly, it is a win for hardworking taxpayers as it accomplishes all of this without increasing taxes.
If it were up to only me, these payroll tax rate cuts would be fully paid for. However, from my first- hand experience seeing the Senate and House Democrats summarily reject our reasonable spending cut proposals, the choice we were left with was clear. Not paying for the tax rate is not good policy. But allowing the government to take more of what hardworking taxpayers earn is worse. Frustratingly, the White House and the Democrats were willing to let Washington take more of every American’s paycheck in just a few weeks.
I believe that people can spend their money more productively than Washington can. The more that Americans can keep in their paycheck, the better the economy will be long-term.
Additionally, this agreement will get more people back to earning paychecks rather than benefit checks. It moves unemployment benefits back toward a temporary “hand up” to help people through a tough time and become reemployed. I am particularly pleased with the option allowing states to consider ways to identify and get help for unemployed drug users.
The Medicare doc fix and unemployment are paid for in the deal, and I will continue to fight for additional spending cuts to make up the money we are taking from the general fund. The debate on prioritizing government spending will continue in even greater earnest as we operate in the shadow of a national debt of more than $15 trillion. We have a responsibility to our children and grandchildren to find these cuts and we will not fail them.”
-- Jerry Zremski