- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
- ‘Duck Dynasty’ Phil Robertson suspended ‘indefinitely’ for gay quip
- John Podesta eats crow: ‘I apologize to Speaker Boehner’
GOP ties payroll tax to oil pipeline
House vote helps set up year-end clash with Obama over key policy issues
Question of the Day
House Republicans voted Tuesday to give President Obama the payroll-tax-cut extension he desperately wants, but only if he accepts major changes to unemployment benefits and speeds up a decision on building the Keystone XL pipeline, which the administration has sought to delay until after the 2012 election.
The 234-193 vote came just hours after the White House said Mr. Obama would veto the bill if it reached his desk, rejecting the GOP’s proposed spending cuts and instead insisting the bill include the tax increases on the wealthy that he has made the centerpiece of his re-election campaign.
Complicating matters, Republicans accused Senate Democrats of holding a massive year-end spending bill hostage to the tax negotiations. With existing funding slated to run out on Friday, the stalemate risks yet another partial government shutdown — the third time this year lawmakers have pushed to the brink.
“The Democrats who run Washington have a responsibility to act,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said after the House vote. “The Senate can take up our bill and amend it, or it can pass its own bill. But the Democrats who run the Senate can’t continue to shirk their responsibility to govern.”
Congress is racing against several deadlines in addition to spending. Unless Congress acts, extended unemployment benefits run out at the end of this year, the 2-percentage-point payroll tax cut expires, and doctors would see a 27 percent cut in payments for treating Medicare patients.
“This is not a time for Washington Republicans to score political points against the president,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said after the House vote. “Congress should not finish their business before finishing the business of the American people. They cannot go on vacation before agreeing to prevent a tax hike on 160 million Americans and extending unemployment insurance.”
Overall, Republicans say they’ve tried to give Mr. Obama everything he wants: an extension of the payroll tax cut into next year, another round of unemployment benefits — albeit at lower levels than Democrats hoped — and another round of the so-called “doc fix” that waives the 1997 budget law that tried to control costs by imposing ever-decreasing payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients.
In exchange, the GOP said it wanted to force the administration to make a decision on the pipeline, which would carry oil derived from Canada’s tar sands into the U.S.
The administration, caught between environmentalists who oppose the pipeline and labor unions that support it, has tried to put off a final decision on the project until after the election.
But in its veto threat, the White House stayed away from the pipeline and instead criticized the salary freeze on federal workers and other spending cuts the GOP is using to cover the costs of the payroll tax cut.
“[The bill] breaks the bipartisan agreement on spending cuts that was reached just a few months ago and would inevitably lead to pressure to cut investments in areas like education and clean energy,” the White House said, also adding that the bill gives “a free pass to the wealthiest.”
Republicans said that skewed the facts. They said the summer’s debt deal set a ceiling on spending but that Congress always had the option of spending less than the limits agreed to by Mr. Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.
They also said their salary freeze only extends the one Mr. Obama himself agreed to for the previous two years and does not specifically cut education.
The 369-page bill goes well beyond those issues.
House Republicans included a significant rewrite of unemployment benefit rules, including allowing states to impose drug testing on beneficiaries and to encourage job-seekers to get a high school diploma or a General Educational Development certification. The bill also would prevent millionaires from getting food stamps or unemployment benefits.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Obama's own panel rips NSA spying on phone calls of Americans
- IRS pays tax cheats hundreds of millions of dollars
- John Boehner demands Senate action on House jobs bills
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- White House is obstructing probe on Navy Yard shooter, NSA leaker, Darrell Issa says
Latest Blog Entries
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- Half of America strips religion from Christmas
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- NAPOLITANO: NSA spies pick up interference from the Constitution
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- 'Duck Dynasty' star Phil Robertson: Gays 'wont inherit the kingdom of God'
- John McCain to Harry Reid: Ill kick the crap out of you
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Politics, economics, and business from a real world perspective.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
Nobody likes to talk about dying. But we can help.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow