Democrats look to pick fight on payroll tax extension

Democrats are seizing on an AP report that congressional Republicans will fight an extension of a temporary payroll tax decrease to argue that the GOP does not oppose all tax increases, just those that protect the wealthy.

The AP story notes that "many of the same Republicans who fought hammer-and-tong to keep the George W. Bush-era income tax cuts from expiring on schedule are now saying a different 'temporary' tax cut should end as planned. By their own definition, that amounts to a tax increase."

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will put out a release later Tuesday attacking Republicans for opposing the tax break extension, which lowered how much employees have to pay in payroll taxes from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of their earnings.

"The rhetoric from Republicans about creating jobs and keeping taxes low is baloney. Senate Republicans are willing to raise taxes on the middle class in order to protect loopholes for oil companies and giveaways to the very wealthy and to score political points," said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter in the release. "The payroll tax cut provides relief to middle class families that need it right now, not special interests that get all the tax breaks."

Republicans said they were happy to talk taxes in a statement.

"Someone should warn Senate Democrats that April Fools Day was actually four months ago, because the notion that Democrats would try to sell themselves as the party of lower taxes is laughable," said National Republican Senatorial Committee communications director Brian Walsh. "But if they want to help us make next year’s Senate elections about taxes and spending in Washington, and which party’s candidate is offering the most responsible path forward, Republicans look forward to that debate."

This is not the only example of Republicans favoring tax increases. Many — including Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — have said that the large number of Americans who do not pay income taxes should do so.


—Updated at 10:15 a.m. to include Walsh's statement.