Coburn, Conrad Discuss Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Two top senators agreed that a tax cut would probably be extended but neither was looking forward to a compromise.

With the government once again deadlocked on the issue of extending the payroll tax cut, both the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ plans have been voted down in the Senate. With less than a month to go before the end of this year, the question is whether American families will be looking at paying more taxes in the next?

In an attempt to answer that question, Republican senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Democrat Kent Conrad of North Dakota sat down with Fox News Sunday this weekend.

Republicans were criticized for favoring an extension of the tax cut without paying for it with a surtax on high-income earners as has been proposed by Democrats. Coburn agreed, arguing that the notion of creating a temporary tax break and paying for it over ten years was why America is “bankrupt as a nation.”

Whether or not we continue a reduction in the amount of taxes that come to Social Security is one thing. Paying for it, we have so much waste in Washington to take ten years to pay for it is ridiculous.

With Republicans critical of the tax cut extension and Democrats pushing for it, the parties find themselves in unfamiliar territory. Usually, it is the Republicans who want to lower taxes.

Coburn dismissed the Democrats’ exercise as “pure politics. It was all for playing a game,” he said.

America is tired of that. They want real solutions to the problems we have. And all we were doing is playing a charade and America saw right through it.

Senator Conrad disagreed. He argued that an extension of the payroll tax cut would help the American middle class in tough economic times. Letting it lapse could cost one million jobs, he claimed, and reduce short-term growth prospects. “What the country needs right now is additional lift for the economy.”

Republicans have for several years insisted that raising taxes in the middle of a recession was a terrible idea.

When Senator Coburn was asked what he thought would happen, he said it was likely that both the tax cut and unemployment benefits would be extended for another year but added that, “the question the American people ought to ask is, where is the backbone in Washington to actually pay for these extensions in the year in which the money is spent?”