GOP Rep. Fred Upton says President Obama isn't the only one who can claim a political victory from an extension of the payroll tax holiday and renewed unemployment benefits, stating that Republicans pushed just as hard as the president and his Democratic allies for the package.
"The proof in the pudding is, more than half the Republicans voted for it in the House, so I wouldn't call it a victory for just the president," the Michigan lawmaker said Friday during a taping of C-SPAN's "Newsmakers" program, which airs Sunday morning. "It's [a victory for all lawmakers] for sitting down for weeks now ironing the differences out."
In an unusually bipartisan move, Congress on Friday passed a full-year extension of the 2-percent Social Security tax cut — which was set to expire at the end of February — and a benefits package for the long-term jobless.
Republicans have pushed for the tax cut to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere in the budge,t but eventually caved to Democrats' demand that it not be paid for.
Mr. Obama made both the tax cut and the jobless benefits chief pillars of his economic plan, and he and fellow Democrats outmaneuvered Republicans and ended up shaping most of the package.
But Mr. Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and one of 20 congressional negotiators who hammered out the deal, said letting the tax cut expire would have amounted to a tax increase for every working American.
"And in a time of recession, that is not the thing that we ought to do and that's why it had bipartisan support," he said.
Mr. Upton told C-SPAN he wasn't sure if Congress would consider extending the payroll-tax cut again at the end of the year but said it's time for lawmakers to tackle a comprehensive reform of the tax system.
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Sean Lengell covers Congress and national politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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