The Washington Times - December 1, 2011, 12:58PM

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday she would consider “reasonable” Republican suggestions for paying for an extension of the payroll-tax break, but shot down a GOP proposal to offset costs by reducing the federal workforce.

Republicans are “saying we need a tax cut for the middle class to create 400,000 jobs, and while we’re doing it, we’re going to eliminate 200,000 jobs,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, during her weekly briefing with reporters. “It doesn’t make any sense, except that it is consistent with the Republican principle that they’re here for the (nation’s most wealthy) 1 percent.

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“But yes, we would be open to reasonable pay-fors for those tax cuts.”

An initial payroll-tax cut, passed last year, is set to expire at the end of December. President Obama has pressed for extending the current tax cut of 2 percent, under which workers now pay 4.2 percent of their paychecks to the Social Security trust fund. The president also wants to increase the size of the cut so that workers would pay only 3.1 percent of their wages, up to $106,800.

Senate Republicans on Wednesday floated a plan to offset the cost of extending the payroll tax cuts in part by reducing the size of the federal workforce through attrition and by extending the current federal employee pay freeze for another three years.

Democrats immediately opposed the proposal, which they characterize as an assault on the federal workforce.

Mrs. Pelosi dismissed talk that Democrats were embracing Republican anti-tax positions, saying her party always has been in favor of middle-class tax cuts.

“The issue is that we want to see, whatever our economic and fiscal policy is, be something that grows the economy. The Republican tax cuts for the wealthy did not grow the economy,” she said.