Durbin, Graham predict payroll tax deal

The Senate's No. 2 Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham on Sunday said they expect a payroll tax cut bill to pass before year's end but they differ widely over how to pay for it.

Senate Democrats have proposed adding a surtax on the second million dollars of income earned, a proposal already shot down in the upper chamber.

"They refuse to allow us to use this millionaires surtax whether it's to save the jobs of teachers, firefighters and policemen or invest in America in infrastructure," Durbin said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

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But Graham, appearing with Durbin, argued that "taxing one group to pay for a tax cut for another is not going to sell." 

"The payroll tax cut will get extended not expanded but extended and we will find a way to pay for it in a bipartisan fashion," he said. 

House Republicans rolled out a bill on Friday that includes a yearlong extension along with a reauthorization of unemployment benefits, although they are curtailed sharply, along with a Medicare "doc fix". 


While Graham suggested that a provision pushing the administration to fast-track the Keystone XL oil pipeline project should be part of a final bill he said it is another issue that "is not going to sell."

"It is important that we extend the tax cut through next year but it's even more important that we come up with some sustainable policies to turn this country around," Graham said. 

Earlier on Sunday, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continued to press for legislation that links extending a payroll tax break with the Keystone pipeline project.

McConnell predicted Congress will pass legislation this month that extends the payroll tax holiday and extends jobless benefits — but also couldn't offer much in the way of how lawmakers will reach a final deal. 

Graham blamed President Obama for the state of the economy saying that his recent speeches criticizing Republicans were merely a political move "pitting one group of Americans against the others and his policies are the biggest threat to hard-working Americans."

"I think the issue is that he has a failed presidency and he didn't talk about the things he has done to make America a stronger, better place in a bipartisan fashion,” Graham said.

He pressed the Obama administration to "pick a number" for what he would consider "a fair share" of taxes from higher-income earners. 

Durbin countered that the president has tried to work with Republicans for "three straight years to solve the problems of this country" saying Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have walked out of meetings with the president. 

"The president has said, listen we have a clear choice, the Republicans will not cooperate to work to move this economy forward so we have got to focus on what the future will be," Durbin said. 

"The best way to get America equal is to grow the economy, the Obama policies have been a miserable failure," Graham said. 

"Obama's policies are why hard-working Americans now they will never get better in the second term of an Obama administration that's why we're going to win as Republicans," he added.