GOP leader: Two-month tax extension would ‘do more harm than good’

The fourth-ranking House Republican argued Tuesday that a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut “would do more harm than good.” 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling (Texas), the chairman of the House Republican Conference, said the two-month extension, approved in an 89-10 Senate vote, would do more harm because of the burden it would place on payroll software companies. 

House Republicans are expected to vote Tuesday for a conference committee with the Senate on the controversial legislation. 

{mosads}Partially to avoid a messy vote in which some GOP members might have defected from leadership and signed onto the two-month extension, the Republican leadership in the House instead decided last night to vote to appoint conferees, in hopes that doing so would shift the burden back to Democrats to return to the negotiating table. Hensarling said the decision to appoint conferees was the way that “since the dawn of the republic people work out differences.”

“I hope the Democrats will come to their senses and be reasonable,” Hensarling said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said he will not reopen negotiations, however, which means the tax cut could end and workers could see their payroll tax rise in January. 

Each party appears to hope the other will get the blame if that happens.

House Republicans say a one-year extension is more appropriate, and note that this is what President Obama called for.

“Washington didn’t consult with the real world,” Hensarling said on CNN’s “American Morning.” “Every single business group says a two-month extension is totally unworkable, and will do more harm than good.”

The GOP conference chairman said that he was unimpressed by the calls of Republican senators for the House to pass the temporary extension.

“What I’d say is there are some Democrats who have supported our position, so there’s a handful of people on both sides,” Hensarling said.

The Texas congressman argued that an eventual Republican rejection of the plan would not simply be a political move. He referenced a letter from Associated Builders and Contractors sent Monday to congressional leaders that hit the Senate plan as a “sort of temporary fix [that] underscores Congress’s uneven, ad hoc approach toward the economy.”

“It’s not just a matter of principle, it’s a matter of practicality,” Hensarling said. “We’re not going to do something that does more harm than good.”

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