The Republican-controlled House today blocked a bipartisan bill that would have kept payroll taxes down through 2012 and extended unemployment benefits to millions of struggling Americans.
The House vote, 229-193, brings the measure back to the Senate, where the two-month plan passed Saturday with an 89-10 vote. It also calls for the formation of a negotiating committee to help Republicans and Democrats come to an agreement on the issues.
If Congress doesn’t pass a bill by Dec. 31, 160 million Americans will bring home smaller paychecks at the start of the year with payroll taxes rising to 6.2 percent from 4.2 percent, meaning workers will lose about $1,000 annually.
The rejection of this bill also means that long-term unemployment benefits will expire for roughly 3 million people starting Jan. 1. An automatic 27 percent cut in Medicare reimbursements for doctors will also kick in at the start of the year.
“My family is already living paycheck to paycheck,” an Artesia woman named Jean told Patch when asked about how the increased payroll tax might affect her. “I also have a few friends who are struggling to find jobs and need their unemployment checks until they can get back on their feet.”
Artesia and Cerritos currently have a total of 2,500 jobless individuals. During the month of November, unemployment in Artesia was at 8.3 percent (700 unemployed), and it was at 6.3 percent in Cerritos (1,800 unemployed), according to California Employment Development Department.
Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-Lakewood), who represents the 39th District, including the cities of Artesia and Cerritos, voted in favor of the bill.
“Once again, Speaker (John) Boehner and House Republicans have chosen to raise taxes on millions of American families, cut unemployment benefits, and deny seniors the Medicare services they’ve earned,” said Sanchez. “Instead, Republicans continue to fight for tax breaks for billionaires. Tea Party Republicans are clearly out of touch with mainstream America. My constituents and all Californians deserve better. ”
Republican lawmakers argued that setting tax policies in two-month increments would only lead to more economic uncertainty in 2012. But Democrats believe that the proposed legislature is imperative in preventing tax increases due to kick in New Year’s Day, adding that today’s vote also shows a lack of regard for the struggling middle class.