BY | February 19, 2012

Payroll tax cut extension gets through Congress. United States Congress finally passed extension of payroll tax cut

This Friday was a big day for 160 workers and millions of other unemployed population of America as Congress passed a $150 billion economic package. The package extended the tax holiday for the unemployed people for the rest of the year.

The package was passed by a 293-132 vote in which a bipartisan House coalition supported the decision to let the unemployed have a little economic cushion every month as well as keep on the trend of giving workers a little extra money along with their regular payment.

Those who passed the bildid so for different reasons and also view the outcome of the bill differently. While House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s party is happy with the decision to extend payroll tax cuts and benefits for the unemployed, Speaker John Boehner supports the deal despite being of the opinion that it would not help the economy a great deal.

The bill was passed with an approval of 60 to 36 in the senate vote. Now if President Obama approves of it and signs on the bill, it would become a law. And since Obama is the force behind the massive jobs bill he presented to Congress last fall, of which this bill is a little part, there remains no doubt about its approval.

However, the decision was not easy to reach. The passing of the bill was preceded by a bitter battle inside the Republican Party this December when the additional burden on the economy caused by these tax cuts was challenged as a sane step. On one side, it was debated to be backed by spending cuts to make up for the Social Security withholding tax funds that instead went to workers. On the other hand complaints were made that  that the flawed tax policy would lead to increased deficits.

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said during debate, “Nobody is targeted in this bill other than federal employees. Enough is enough!”

He was backed by 91 Republicans and 41 Democrats. 146 House Republicans and 147 Democrats favoured the plan.

Republicans did acknowledge that opposing the bill would have been foolhardy after the December debacle which was viewed as a political disaster by many.

Sen. John McCain said, “We’re dumb, but we’re not stupid. We didn’t want to repeat the debacle of last December.”

He was referring to last year’s debacle in which House Republicans would not support a two-month extension of the payroll-tax cut package, resulting in a bad standing of the republicans in the polls. Finally House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) had to give in to internal pressure from his party to agree to a short-term extension.

The bill would avoid a cut of 27% in payments to doctors who serve Medicare patients and extend through year-end payment rates for Medicare doctors. Federal jobless benefits will be extended through the rest of 2012, but the duration will gradually decline to a maximum of 73 weeks from 99 weeks.

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