- The Senate is gone, the House is packing up, and for now that means working Americans will see their taxes rise next month.
After weeks of bitter partisan wrangling, the Capitol emptied for the holidays with no sign of negotiation toward a compromise that would save an expiring tax break. As of Jan. 1, the payroll-tax cut that has been in place all year is scheduled to return to 6.2 percent from its current 4.2 percent, meaning that biweekly paychecks on average will be $40 smaller. Long-term unemployment benefits for 3 million people also are poised to expire, and doctors face an estimated 20 percent cut in Medicare payments.
Facing that unpleasant reality, Republicans fell into an angry family feud over their strategy. Several GOP senators who face re-election next year accused their House GOP colleagues of acting irresponsibly. The House voted to disagree with the bipartisan bill the Senate had passed to preserve the tax cut for two months so Congress would have more time to work on a full-year extension.
Democrats, meantime, were happy to accuse Republicans of voting to block a tax cut and leaving town without finishing their work - the same argument Republicans planned to use on them.