Brown touts tax cuts for middle class

Published 9:57 am Thursday, December 1, 2011

IRONTON — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown touted the benefits of Democratic-proposed legislation that will extend and increase by one-year federal payroll tax cuts for employees, speaking to reporters during a conference call Wednesday from his Washington D.C. office.

The bill, The Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011, would extend the existing payroll tax cut for another year. It would also boost the tax break from 2 percent to 3.1 percent, as well as reducing employer-side Social Security payroll taxes by half, down from 6.2 percent to 3.1 percent, on the first $5 million of payroll.

The Senate is expected to vote on the extension Friday, which Democrats propose paying for through a 3.25 percent surtax on individuals earning more than $1 million a year.

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The Republican leadership has said they will oppose the cuts if they are paid for by tax increases on the wealthy.

Brown blasted the opposition, saying payroll tax cuts “should be an area where both parties should be able to find middle ground,” saying, “It’s irresponsible to put brazen partisanship ahead of middle class family needs.”

Brown touted the cuts as a way to stimulate the still floundering economy by “getting money in middle class people’s pockets.”

If the extension is not passed, Brown said, it would increase taxes on 98 percent of U.S. businesses, as well as 160 million American workers.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the tax cut would put an additional $404 into the pocket of Lawrence County families earning the median income of $36,701.

If the tax cuts fail, the family would instead see its tax burden increase $734 from this year to next year. If the extended tax cuts are passed, the median income family would instead save an extra $1,138 next year on its tax bill.

Small business would also get a break, with approximately 840 small businesses benefiting in Lawrence County, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

“At a time when many families and businesses are still struggling, we must extend and expand this important payroll tax cut,” Brown said. “Families will have more money to spend on necessities like gas and food, and their mortgages and rent. Businesses will be able to hire additional workers, boosting the economy. This bill gives tax cuts to people who need them — and will use them. America’s middle class can’t wait for them any longer.”

According to Brown, a broad sample of economists including Mark Zandi, a former adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain, have said passing the legislation will help the economic recovery. Zandi has said the measure could create 750,000 jobs and that a failure to extend the cuts could drive the economy back into recession.

Brown said he does not support making the tax cuts permanent.

“This shouldn’t go on forever, that’s why we’re not doing it for five years,” Brown said. We’re doing it for one year, then we’ll reassess it. This is not a long term policy.”

He later reiterated his position. “I’m absolutely not pushing for a permanent reduction. I’m supporting this bill now for one year. I think at some point we end this tax break. We need to do this tax reduction now for job growth. We can’t cut our way to prosperity.”