Payroll tax cut decision down to the wire

2011 has been a year where Congress faced many challenges in reaching compromise. Will that trend continue into this next election year?

Jeremy Hobson: Well today in Washington, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on a two month extension of the payroll tax cut. The extension got bipartisan support in the Senate over the weekend, and then Senators left town for the holidays. Well now, it appears the measure could be headed for defeat in the Republican-led House, which could mean a tax increase for all of us in a matter of weeks.

For more, we're joined by Congressman John Carter. He's a Republican member of the appropriations committee, and he's with us from Round Rock, Texas. Good morning.

John Carter: Good morning.

Hobson: Are you going to support this two month extension of the payroll tax cut that the Senate passed, or not?

Carter: No, I think we can do better than that. I'd like to see us follow regular order and take a vote on it. I don't expect our members to pass it. And I would assume we'd work towards trying to go to conference with the Senate and come up with a long-term fix, which is what we need to do, rather than kick the can down the road.

Hobson: But if you guys do not approve what the Senate has approved, isn't there a chance that this payroll tax cut just doesn't get extended at all, and expires in a couple weeks?

Carter: There's always that chance. But a lot of what you have to do -- not only in Congress, but in this life -- is take the things that come to you when they come to you and deal with them. And I think we've done a little better at it this year, but we've had problems with not facing things head on and kicking things down the road. And the American people are looking for solutions.

Hobson: How important do you think this payroll tax cut is for the economy?

Carter: You know, that's a good question. And I'm not sure in the long run that the pains we're going to face when Social Security finally hits its crisis point. But the president chose this route; we agreed to it in order to get these Senators on the Bush tax cuts. And now, anything short of passing it would be a tax increase, and you know, we don't believe in increasing taxes when you're in the middle of a recession. So it's kind of a catch-22; we've gotta get it done.

Hobson: John Carter is a Republican congressman from Texas, also a member of the Appropriations Committee. Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Carter: It's been my pleasure.

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.

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