Reid says millionaire surtax is back on the table in payroll talks

Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidManchin’s likely senior role on key energy panel rankles progressives Water wars won’t be won on a battlefield Poll finds most Americans and most women don’t want Pelosi as Speaker MORE (D-Nev.) on Friday named four Senate Democrats to negotiate a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday and said a surtax on millionaires is back on the table in the discussions.

Last week, Senate Democrats dropped their demand to offset the cost of a full-year payroll tax holiday with a surtax on income over a million dollars. 

But on Friday, Reid signaled Democrats will renew the push for the millionaires tax, which Republicans in both chambers strongly oppose.    

“I have instructed in a telephone call with my four senators there’s nothing off the table. Everything’s on the table,” Reid said.


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Reid said several Senate Republican colleagues have told him privately that they could support raising taxes on the wealthy to defray the budget impact.

The quick move by Reid to float the millionaire tax suggests Democrats are prepared to play hardball with the GOP in the next round of talks on the payroll package.  

Reid said he hoped Tea Party-affiliated freshmen had learned their lesson about the art of compromise after one of the most contentious legislative sessions in years.

He picked Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE (Mont.), Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinGeorge H.W. Bush remembered at Kennedy Center Honors Democratic senator: US must maintain strategic relationship with Saudis and hold them accountable Trump confronts new Russia test with Ukraine crisis MORE (Md.), Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedYemen resolution picks up crucial support in Senate Senate to get briefing on Saudi Arabia that could determine sanctions Dem senator: Trump's Saudi statement 'stunning window' into his 'autocratic tendencies' MORE (R.I.) and Sen. Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyWould-be 2020 Dem candidates head for the exits O’Rourke, Brown shake up volatile Democratic horse race The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Democratic race for Speaker turns nasty MORE Jr. (Pa.) as the Senate Democratic representatives of the conference.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOval Office clash ups chances of shutdown On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump Mellman: Enemies of democracy MORE (R-Ky.) will pick three lawmakers to represent his conference.

Reid said he expected conference negotiators to work over the December and January recess. He instructed his staff to get together next week to begin planning for the conference.

“Senate Democrats will get together, there will be a schedule — we’ll work together to come up with a schedule so that during the time we’re out of session, the conferees will still have work to do,” Reid said.  

Cardin represents many federal workers in Maryland and can be expected to strongly oppose proposals to further restrict federal worker pay. 

Reed, whose home state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, is one of the Senate’s most outspoken advocates of extending unemployment benefits.

Reid said he expected a difficult conference with the House, noting that five of the eight appointed House Republican conferees have questioned the value of extending the payroll tax holiday. 

“I’m very disappointed with the conferees that the House has appointed; five of the eight have already spoken out — prior to being appointed — spoke out against extending the payroll tax cut,” Reid said.

One GOP conferee, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyIRS issues guidance aimed at limiting impact of tax on nonprofits' parking expenses On The Money: New director takes helm at troubled consumer agency | Trump’s economy teetering on trade tensions, volatile markets | Brexit crisis deepens | House report scolds Equifax over breach Brady releases revised version of year-end tax package MORE (R-Texas) said earlier this month: “I’m not as big of a fan of the payroll tax cut … and the payroll tax cut, just like the other rebates, has had a marginal impact at best.”

Reid praised McConnell for standing by the compromise measure they negotiated last week to extend the payroll tax holiday and unemployment benefits for two months.

Reid said he hoped House Republicans, especially Tea Party-affiliated members, would be more receptive to compromise in 2012 after a contentious year of battling over spending cuts and tax increases, which almost shut the government down in April and caused a national default in August. 

“Everything we do around here does not have to wind up in a fight. That’s not the way things need to be,” Reid said. “It seems everything we have done this last year has been a knock-down, drag-out fight. There’s no reason to do that. 

“If there was message received from this last thing we’ve been through, I would hope especially the new members of the House will understand legislation is the art of compromise and consensus-building, not trying to push your way through on issues that you don’t have the support of the American people.”