SHAHEEN VOICES SUPPORT FOR PAYROLL TAX CUT EXTENSION

December 13, 2011

(Washington, DC) – United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke today on the Senate floor to urge her Senate colleagues to extend the payroll tax cut. Shaheen argued that failing to extend cuts would raise taxes on nearly all working Americans, harming a fragile economy and costing thousands of jobs.

Senator Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below.

Mr. President, in November, the private sector added 140,000 new jobs to our workforce.  In fact, businesses have now created at least 100,000 jobs in each of the last five months – a positive trend that we hadn’t seen in the past five years. 

While this is an encouraging sign, we still have a long way to go. 

More than 13 million Americans remain unemployed and millions more are under-employed; these individuals and their families are struggling to make ends meet during this holiday season. 

At this time last year, Congress passed bipartisan legislation to put more money into the pockets of working Americans.  We cut payroll taxes for workers, an effort that increased the take-home pay for an average household by almost $1,000 in 2011.  

This tax cut isn’t just good for families on a tight budget, it’s good for our fragile economy.  In New Hampshire, the payroll tax cut has meant an extra $600 million in our communities. 

Some members of Congress want to allow this tax cut to expire at the end of this year.  Let’s be clear, this would mean the average family will see their taxes increase by a thousand dollars next year.  This would mean taking $120 billion out of our nation’s economy- money that would no longer be spent at our supermarkets, retailers, and gas stations. 

Mr. President, that just doesn’t make sense. 

Independent economists have predicted that allowing this tax cut to expire could cost our economy 400,000 jobs next year.  Some have even predicted that the United States could face another recession if we don’t take action.

Members of this body have also suggested that this tax cut would starve Social Security of needed revenue and endanger this bedrock program’s solvency.  With Americans relying so heavily on Social Security to meet basic needs, this is a serious charge.  However, the program’s chief actuary has written that this tax cut does NOT hurt Social Security’s finances at all.  Instead, this proposal contains provisions to require that the Social Security Trust Fund is made whole.

I recently supported Senator Casey’s proposal to not only extend payroll tax cuts for employees, but also to expand them to increase the average family’s take home pay by an additional $500 next year.  This proposal would have also cut employer payroll taxes, making it easier for small businesses to keep current workers and hire new ones.  The legislation even included a special tax credit for businesses that expand their payrolls, rewarding employers who are creating jobs in a difficult economy.

This proposal was fully paid for with a three percent tax on people earning more than a million dollars in a year.  Because of that pay-for, the legislation was blocked by a minority of members in this body. 

My friend from Pennsylvania also introduced a compromise plan, which I also supported, although I regret that the incentives for businesses had to be reduced to try to attract more bipartisan support.  As I said earlier, these tax cuts could have encouraged small businesses to hire workers at a time when millions of Americans need work.

Mr. President, everyone should agree on preventing tax increases for working families at a time like this.  There are some competing ideas about the best way to accomplish this, and I welcome that debate.  But Congress simply cannot afford to saddle middle-class families with a thousand dollar tax increase in the midst of an uneven recovery.  It isn’t right for our small businesses, our communities or our economy. 

Time is running out to extend the payroll tax cut, and I urge my colleagues to support this effort.

Press Contact

Press Office, (202) 224-5553