Hoyer: GOP wants to pay for jobless benefits, but not tax cuts

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Monday ripped Republicans for planning a vote on a tax credit bill that isn’t paid for. 

Hoyer said Republicans are being hypocritical by bringing forward a tax bill without deficit cuts even as they insist that the cost of extending federal unemployment benefits should be offset in the budget.

"This takes no courage to put on the floor or to vote for. None. Zero. Zip. Tax cuts are easy to vote for. Paying for what you buy is difficult to vote for. And all the wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth with reference to the deficit seems to go by the boards when the Republicans talk of tax cuts," Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. 

The extension of the research and development credit, which is championed by the business community, would cost $155 billion over the next decade. Hoyer noted that the House Ways and Means Committee's package of six bills to renew various tax credits that expired at the end of 2013 would cost far more than the price of unemployment insurance.

"These six bills would add $310 billion to the deficit over the next decade – 13 times the amount that it would cost to renew emergency unemployment insurance for the entire year," his office said. 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) argued in a colloquy with Hoyer last week that the longevity of the research and development tax credit negated the need for an offset. He also noted that Democrats had previously extended the credit without demanding an offset.

"We have essentially been allowing an R&D tax credit since 1981 in this country. So let's just call it what it is and make it permanent so that we can get back on the path to growth. Addressing growth, addressing our unfunded liabilities connected with entitlement programs, that is the sure way to reduce deficits and reduce the debt burden," Cantor said.

Hoyer emphasized that he and other Democratic leaders support the research and development tax credit, but want it to be part of a larger package of tax extensions. He also predicted that some Democrats would oppose the stand-alone measure.

"We're certainly going to tell people what we think the consequences of this are, and that we think those consequences are bad, and that they undermine – not facilitate – the attaining of a comprehensive agreement," Hoyer said.

Mike Lillis contributed.