Rep. Paul Ryan: Payroll tax fight 'caused damage' to GOP (+video)
Long battle in Congress over extending a payroll tax break 'caused damage' to Republicans because it 'muddled' differences between the parties, Paul Ryan, House Budget Committee chairman, said Thursday.
The months-long battle in Congress over extending a payroll tax break â€ścertainly caused damageâ€ť to Republicans because it â€śmuddledâ€ť the differences between the parties over the issue, says House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin.
Early Thursday morning, House and Senate leaders agreed on a bipartisan deal that will extend, through the end of the year, a 2 percentage point reduction in 160 million workersâ€™ Social Security taxes. The rate will stay at 4.2 percent of earnings, rather than revert to its usual 6.2 percent. Republicans in December had balked at a long-term extension of the tax break, but after intense criticism they agreed to back a short-term extension through February.
House Speaker John Boehner announced earlier this week that the House GOP leadership would no longer insist that the $100 billion cost of the tax break be paid for with spending cuts, because the Senate was unwilling to go along with the cuts. [Instead, the lost revenue for Social Security will be offset by money from the general fund, effectively adding to the federal deficit.Â
â€śThe payroll tax deal, from a political perspective, certainly caused damage because it muddled the differences [between the parties]. It got us down into a skirmish where the differences got muddled, which is what I think the president loves,â€ť Representative Ryan said at a Monitor-hosted breakfast for reporters on Thursday.Â
The influential House Republican directed his fire at the Democratic-controlled Senate. â€śIt is a tough issue because they had to compromise,â€ť Ryan said. â€śIt is very frustrating that they, meaning the Senate, werenâ€™t willing to cut $100 billion [from government spending] over 10 years.â€ť
The House Budget Committee chairman added: â€śThe idea of running against a dysfunctional, do-nothing Congress is ... part of [President Obama's] campaign strategy." Ryan charged: "In order for that to happen, the Senate has to be your enabler to make sure Congress does nothing.â€ť