In a breathtaking display of partisanship, Louisville’s Democratic congressman, John Yarmuth (Ky. 3rd), voted at 6:51 p.m. Tuesday evening against extending the payroll tax cuts for working families. The Republican majority in the House of Representatives was finally successful in passing H.R.3630, which will keep alive Social Security payroll tax cuts for some 160 million Americans. On a largely party-line vote of 234-193 (10 Democrats voted for it), the House sent the measure to the Democratic-controlled Senate, for a final partisan showdown.
If allowed to expire on Dec. 31, the payroll tax would revert to 6.2 percent on the first $110,100 in wages for 2012, up from 4.2 percent this year. Extension of the payroll tax cuts will put an extra $1,000 in average workers' pockets.
Yarmuth’s vote in opposition to extending the payroll tax cuts represents a 180-degree turnaround from his recently stated position in favor of the idea. On November 30, 2011, he spoke out strongly in favor of the tax cuts on the floor of the House:
But earlier today, the Third District Democrat’s position on extending the tax cuts was completely reversed:
The House bill containing the payroll tax cut would also expedite a decision by the administration on TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would connect Canada’s oil sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast. Environmental groups are opposing the project, but unions are strongly supporting the plan, since it will create as many as 50,000 new—mostly unionized—jobs. Additionally, the new source of imported oil from Canada will greatly reduce America’s dependence upon oil from the Middle-East. President Barack Obama has said he’ll veto legislation to extend the payroll tax cuts if the pipeline language is attached.
Additionally, the House bill calls for a one-year pay freeze and higher pension costs for federal workers, higher Medicare costs for seniors over $80,000 in income as well as other items to cover the cost. An expiring program of unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless would remain in place, although at reduced levels.
The measure also would block the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing planned rules to limit toxic emissions from industrial boilers. Republicans said the regulation would be a job killer, and 41 Democrats supported an earlier stand-alone measure to prevent the administration from acting.
Discussing the House bill on the floor of the Senate earlier today, Kentucky’s senior senator, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Here’s a project that would create tens of thousands of jobs right away, wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a dime to build, would reduce the share of energy that we import from unfriendly countries overseas, and which everybody from the labor unions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says they support because it would create tens of thousands of jobs right away. Here’s the kind of project that Democrats themselves — including the President — say they want.”
Sen. McConnell went on to remind his colleagues that, “…the President and the Democratic Majority Leader of the Senate are now saying they’d rather shut down the government than allow this job-creating legislation to become law. That’s what would happen if they succeed in blocking this bipartisan funding bill from coming to the floor for a vote. Unfortunately, the President just doesn’t seem to be happy these days unless he’s got an issue to divide us over. If the Republicans are proposing it, he’s against it, regardless of how many job losses it prevents or how many private-sector jobs it would help create. And he’s not even trying to hide it.”
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