Under a spending deal made last December, the current payroll tax rate is 4.2 percent and comes straight out of workers’ wages. This tax, which is used to fund Social Security, is traditionally set at a rate of 6.2 percent and is set to return to that level on Jan. 1, 2012.
“That’s exactly the opposite” of what we need right now, said state Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, during a conference call with the media on Thursday.
The temporary cut to the payroll tax affects nearly every American worker, including 1.2 million Nevadans, said Roberta Lange, chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party.
“They support small businesses,” Smith said of those who most benefit from the tax cut. “They generate our economy.”
Obama has said that he would like to see the tax relief extended for one year.
Though Republicans have defined their party in large respect on an anti-tax agenda, many leading conservatives in Congress fear the payroll tax reduction is contributing to the national deficit and needs to expire.
“It’s not just hypocritical, it’s bad policy,” Lange said.
An Associated Press article published Aug. 22 quotes several high-level members of the GOP expressing opposition to extending the payroll tax cut.
“We don’t need short-term gestures,” Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told the AP. “We need long-term fundamental changes in our tax structure and our regulatory structure that people who create jobs can rely on.”
Furthermore, the AP reports that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy,” said spokesman Brad Dayspring.
While Republican congressional leaders are signaling their dissatisfaction with the payroll tax cut, not all conservatives oppose an extension.
The AP reports that many of the GOP’s presidential hopefuls are undecided on the matter.
Mitt Romney did not rule out an extension, but he “would prefer to see the payroll tax cut on the employer side” to spur job growth, his campaign told the AP.
Employers also pay a 6.2 percent payroll tax.
Moreover, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, does not support raising the payroll tax, according to spokesman Stewart Bybee.
The debate will certainly heat up in September once Obama formally lays out his jobs package.
In the meantime, “We need to focus on job creation,” Smith said. “The giveaways to big oil won’t create jobs.”