Reid Seeks to Break Impasse on Payroll Tax Cuts, Unemployment

December 5, 2011

By Lorraine Woellert

Dec. 5 (Bloomberg) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to offer a new proposal to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits that are set to expire this month.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad of North Dakota said yesterday on “Fox News Sunday” that fellow Democrat Reid will release a compromise plan today in an effort to break a political deadlock on the measures.

“He indicated to me it will be paid for,” Conrad said, adding that it’s a compromise between plans voted on last week. “It will be paid for in a way that’s credible and serious.”

Republicans and Democrats agreed on Sunday television talk shows that Congress is likely to reach a deal to extend the benefits. Unless lawmakers act, legislation that lowered the employee portion of the Social Security payroll tax to 4.2 percent for 2011 from 6.2 percent will expire Dec. 31.

“We are still reviewing the details with our caucus,” Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Reid of Nevada, said in an e- mail yesterday confirming Conrad’s remarks.

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said no agreement exists on how to pay for the benefits. “Nobody is making hard choices now,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” “What they are doing is promising a benefit and no pain now. It always comes later.”

No Information

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s staff said yesterday he had received no information on the Reid plan.

“It will be a whole lot easier to form an opinion about the ‘compromise’ when we actually see it,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said in an e-mail.

President Barack Obama is urging Congress to extend the payroll tax cut, saying that letting it expire would be a “significant blow” to the economy. Obama said in his most recent weekly radio and Internet address that the tax cut saves the typical middle class family $1,000 a year.

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