Home » Congress » Comparing the Senate and House versions of the Payroll Tax Bill

Comparing the Senate and House versions of the Payroll Tax Bill

[Added in edit] On Friday, December 23, one day later, this all came to an end.

{Begin Original] In the last few weeks, the House wrote a bill that will extend the Payroll Tax break through 2012. It was approved last Tuesday, December 13.  The major points are provided below (via The Associated Press.)  The bill and the details are short.

As dictated by our laws, this bill was sent to the Senate for approval.  The Senate made very minor changes – you can read what they are in the list below. In summary, the Senate bill extends unemployment only for two months rather than through 2012.  It is changed to be a temporary fix, rather than making the change for the full year.  The other compromise was how the bill is paid for – the Senate version saves us money by passing the cost of the payroll tax reduction by charging a fraction of a percent more for mortgages – the House bill cost much more ($180 billion vs $33 billion) and generated what money it did through Federal pay freezes.  There are NO OTHER DIFFERENCES between the House and Senate bills.  They both accomplish the purpose of the bill – to extend the payroll tax break.

The Senate approved the amended, cheaper, temporary bill by a wide, bipartisan margin, 89-10.  Most Republican Senators voted in favor of the bill.  Because the bill was reworked to facilitate compromise, the House has to vote again for it to be sent to the President to become law.  This is typical procedure – bills are frequently modified in minor ways and it used to be routine that the House would vote again with a count identical to the original.

Not with our current lawmakers.  Instead, the House sent the bill to conference – which it can do to try and create compromise wording that allows both chambers to pass the bill – but this is usually saved for when significant changes are made when a bill moves from one group to the other.  In this case, there is no significant difference so it’s unclear what should happen in conference.

No, this is just a way for the Tea Party to obstruct the normal actions of our government.  After the holidays, they assume this will be forgotten, the Payroll Tax will go back up, the GOP will sponsor a bill that cuts it back to where it was and it will pass through both chambers of Congress – just like this one should have.  But the Tea Party assumes we, the public will forget about this and we will blame the Dems for raising taxes, and reward the Republicans for cutting taxes.  Many Senate Republicans are tired of this constant charade.  Here is Senator John McCain publicly claiming these silly antics are harming the Republican party – and the American people’s faith in government.

This childish story you hear Republicans say that “every child in the US knows these bills go to conference…” is silly garbage.  This is a procedural trick to point a finger at the Democrat majority Senate.  Listen to this very fair interview with Representative Dreier as he tries to defend his party’s actions.  It makes me cringe to know this is a powerful member of our government saying these things.  Listen to him try to defend the indefensible.

Our government is broken and it’s broken by smallish factions who care more for their own agendas than for doing the work we elect them to do.  It’s past time to run them out and start over with new honest people.

Here are the details from the Associated Press.  And here is my Representative Labrador (and Tea Partyer) playing politics and generally making an arse of himself.

The Associated Press Highlights of legislation renewing payroll tax cuts, jobless benefits approved by the House and Senate:
House bill, approved last Tuesday:
-Price tag over $180 billion.
-Keeps this year’s 4.2 percent Social Security payroll tax rate paid by 160 million workers through the end of 2012, instead of rising to 6.2 percent on Jan. 1.
-Extends expiring benefits for the long-term jobless through 2012, but at a maximum of 79 weeks coverage, less in some cases, which is well below this year’s 99-week limit. Revamps program to require beneficiaries without high school diplomas to seek an equivalent degree; lets states test applicants for illegal drug use.
-Prevents 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors for 2012.-Blocks Obama administration rule curbing pollution from industrial boilers; extends tax break for businesses buying equipment for 2012.-Requires President Barack Obama to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline within 60 days unless he declares the project would not serve the national interest.
-Paid for by extending current pay freeze on civilian federal workers another year through 2013 and requires them to contribute more toward their pensions; raises fee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charge for insuring mortgages; raises Medicare premiums paid by higher-income elderly; cuts some health care overhaul law programs; sells part of broadcast spectrum; prevents illegal immigrant parents from collecting child tax credit refund checks; bars food stamps, unemployment benefits for the wealthy.
The Senate bill, approved Saturday:
-Price tag $33 billion.
-Extends 2-percentage-point cut in Social Security payroll tax through Feb. 29.
-Renews benefits for the long-term unemployed at current levels through Feb. 29, no other changes in program.
-Prevents 27 percent cut in Medicare payments to doctors; extends other health care fees through Feb. 29.
-Same provision on Keystone as House.
-Paid for by increasing home loan guarantee fees charged to mortgage lenders by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration by one-tenth of 1 percentage point. The fee is passed on to home buyers and will apply to many new purchases and refinancings starting Jan. 1. Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/20/2554691/comparison-of-house-senate-payroll.html#storylink=cpy
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3 thoughts on “Comparing the Senate and House versions of the Payroll Tax Bill

  1. If the two bills are essentially the same – then why didn’t the Senate just approve the House bill? Why did the Senate want it to be just be for two months? Does it have anything to do with the 60 days that Obama has to approve the keystone oil pipeline?

    Answer me these questions three…

  2. calendar year.

    You are aware that since Obama took office, there has been no budget passed by the senate? Even when democrats controlled the house and senate, they never passed a budget? These continuing resolutions and 11th hour risks of government shutdown are used for pure political showmanship, so that every few months, the President can go on TV and berate obstructionist republicans (even when democrats controlled both houses). The House bill mainly intends to put an end to at least this one tax break being used for political purposes.

  3. I want to know exactly who voted for this 2 month extension. Cannot seem to find it. How ridiculous is it to pass a bill lasting for two months and then ask to renegotiate it when Congress gets back from their precious vacation..Is it because they still want to fight the Keystone project and get Obama what he wants…Come on lets get rid of these Senators…Find me a list

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