Senate Hopefuls Side with House GOP on Payroll Tax
By Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Several candidates hoping to face Senator Bob Casey next year say the payroll tax cut compromise he supported isn’t good enough. They told PoliticsPA that Republicans in the U.S. House are right to hold out on the deal.
The House GOP rejected this week a Senate package that would extend the tax break for two months. It was supported by a strong majority of Republicans and Democrats. They are instead pushing for a year-long extensions coupled with additional concessions from Democrats.
“I think what the Republicans are doing in the House is correct. Stay there, and say we’re going to stay here until its done. Force this thing to a vote, and get it done for more than just two months,” said former Pa. Rep. and 2010 gubernatorial candidate Sam Rohrer. He blamed the stalemate on tactics by Barack Obama’s administration.
Tom Smith, a former coal company owner from Armstrong County, agreed.
“These temporary fixes and gimmicks have become a hallmark of the dysfunction among career politicians in Washington,” he said “We need permanent tax relief for job creating small business and an end to the oppressive over-regulation that stifles growth.”
Marc Scaringi, a Cumberland County attorney and a former aide to U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, took an even more direct stance.
“The US Senate should not have settled for the two-month payroll tax cut extension. I would have voted against the Senate version of the bill because it does not provide long-term or permanent tax and spending cuts and regulatory relief,” he explained. “I stand with the Republicans in the House of Representatives.”
Tim Burns, a Washington County businessman who ran for Congress in 2010 against Mark Critz, took a slightly softer tone.
“First of all, a two month tax break is better than nothing, but is it practical?” he asked, saying that Obama and Casey had raised taxes enough. “Common sense and my business experience would say not only is two months insufficient, but it is also impractical for businesses to implement.”
The campaigns of Steve Welch, David Christian and Laureen Cummings did not respond to requests for comment. However, during a debate earlier in December, they and all of the candidates echoed the idea that the payroll tax cut extension is too short-sighted to have a positive impact.
Earlier in the debate in Congress, Casey had pushed a compromise measure to extend the payroll tax cuts by a full year. Since then, he has used the issue to boost his own profile. He has made several appearances on cable news networks among other outreach efforts.
“Neither side was happy with everything but we at least got some certainty for the American people…this was a compromise, rarely do you get this type of vote total in the U.S. Senate and now you have the House Republicans who won’t even bring it up for a vote, I guess they are afraid it might pass,” Casey told the Allentown Morning Call.
Both he and Senator Pat Toomey voted in favor of the Senate’s two month compromise.
Meanwhile, recent polling indicates that the issue is a winner for Democrats in general, and President Obama in particular.