Sen. Conrad: Reid to unveil payroll tax holiday compromise

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will unveil a compromise proposal on Monday to resolve the simmering congressional dispute over whether and how to extend a payroll tax holiday.

Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), speaking on Fox News Sunday, said that Reid informed him over the weekend that the compromise proposal was coming Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT
Last week, Democrats floated a bill that would extend and expand the 2 percentage point payroll tax deduction for one year and that would pay for it by imposing a surtax on millionaires.  Republicans proposed an alternate extension that would have been paid for by cutting the federal workforce, freezing federal worker salaries for three more years and means-testing entitlements like food stamps.  Both proposals failed in the Senate.

Conrad said he was not authorized to announce the details of the new Reid proposal and Reid’s office did not comment on Sunday.

“It will be paid for in a way that is credible and serious,” Conrad said.

Conrad said that up to 1 million jobs could be lost if the payroll tax cut is not extended.

“What the country needs right now is additional lift for the economy,” he said. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not yet seen any sign of the compromise proposal, his office said Sunday. The lack of McConnell's involvement in drafting the proposal at this point may not bode well for its success in resolving the impasse.

Speaking on the same program, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said that the payroll tax break would probably be extended along with unemployment benefits but he said these measures should be accompanied by spending cuts to low–priority areas.

Coburn and Conrad were both members of the Gang of Six deficit negotiators and they both said they thought it would be possible for Congress next year to pass a $4 trillion deficit plan along the lines of that proposed by the president’s fiscal commission.

Their comments come after the congressional supercommittee failed last month to agree on any deficit cuts whatsoever.

“The supercommittee was designed to fail from the start,” Coburn said, adding that leadership had “polarized” it.

One possible avenue for a vote on the fiscal commission plan could be next year’s budget resolution. The Gang of Six has been working to put a plan based on the fiscal commission proposals into legislative language.

This story was updated at 11:46 a.am.