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Democrats seize on GOP rift on payroll tax


Senate Democrats sought today to highlight divisions in the Republican party over extending the payroll tax cut holiday. Republicans, in turn, acknowledged there are differences of opinion among them.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reminded the press this Tuesday afternoon that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell managed only 20 of 47 GOP votes on a Republican proposal to extend the payroll tax holiday.

"We saw what happened on the Senate floor last week. The proposal that they made didn't even get a majority of the Republicans," Reid said, "Unless something changes quickly, it doesn't seem the Republicans are going to follow their own leadership."

He added, "Leader McConnell, Speaker Boehner -- both said they support extending the payroll tax cut, I repeat, funny way of showing it they way they've been legislating or non-legislating."

Reid accused House Republicans of throwing in the towel this week because they have delayed unveiling their bill that would extend the payroll tax cut.

"They have been totally silent, as you learned probably earlier today. The House isn't even going to try to do anything this week. They've given up. That's not a good sign," he said.

But, House GOP aides dispute that, saying House leadership will unveil their version of the payroll tax cut extenstion combined with other measures like extension of unemployment benefits by the end of the week.

In a sign that Republicans were not eager to talk payroll tax cuts today after their weekly lunch, they trained their their fire on the White House for pushing the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

McConnell was asked by a reporter whether he supported a proposal by one of his Republican colleagues, Sen. Susan Collins, who, along with Sen. Claire McCaskill, has proposed extending and expanding the payroll tax cut and paying for it with a surtax on millionaires that would carve out an exception for small business owners.

McConnell acknowledged the divide in his party and said he would not support a plan that taxed millionaires, even with the small business exception.

"Let me just speak for myself," he said chuckling, "because as you know from last week there are differences of opinion in my conference about this so I'll speak for myself. I am not in favor of raising taxes on working people. I do favor extending the payroll tax holiday for another year in conjunction with job creating proposals"

He added, "I think most Americans, most Republicans are very reluctant to raise taxes on anyone during this economic crisis that we find ourselves in but there may be others who have a different point of view."