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Mitt Romney signals support for payroll tax cut extension

December 06, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • Mitt Romney tosses a ball to a young boy while campaigning in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday.
Mitt Romney tosses a ball to a young boy while campaigning in Manchester,… (Adam Hunger / Reuters )

Mitt Romney has come out in favor of the payroll tax cut extension advocated by President Obama, sparking yet another war of words between his campaign and Democratic critics who claim Romney hasn’t been consistent on his support for the measure.

Speaking on a conservative radio show Monday, Romney indicated that he could support a one-year extension, a position being taken by an increasing number of Republicans as the tax break nears its expiration date.

"I would like to see the payroll tax cut extended just because I know that working families are really feeling the pinch right now," Romney said.

The candidate said as much in November at a debate in Michigan. “I don't want to raise taxes on people in the middle of a recession,” Romney said then. But a month earlier, he had seemingly derided an extension as a “temporary little Band-Aid.”

Obama referenced the “Band-Aid” line in a speech he gave last week in Scranton, Pa., where he called on Congress to pass the payroll tax cut extension.

Both Obama’s reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee jumped on Romney’s words, suggesting that he was only embracing the tax cut because of the growing momentum behind extending it.

“Now that public support has increased for an extension of the payroll tax cut, Mitt Romney is jumping on the bandwagon once again to support a plan he previously opposed -- demeaning it as nothing more than a ‘temporary little Band-Aid,’” wrote the Democratic National Committee, in a news release.

But Romney’s campaign called the charge “ludicrous” and said that Romney has always indicated support for a temporary extension while maintaining that a longer-term approach to fixing the economy is needed.

"Governor Romney has never met a tax cut he didn't like. He has made it clear that he does not believe that by itself the payroll tax cut will create the type of permanent long-term change that is needed to turn the economy around,” said Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul.

Senate Democrats on Monday floated a new proposal to extend -- and expand -- the tax cut for workers, but junked a tax break for employers, lowering the overall cost of the measure to $180 billion. Republicans remain opposed to paying for the extension with a surtax on those making more than $1 million a year.

A new National Journal poll out Tuesday said that a majority of Americans, 58%, favor extending the payroll tax cut, with just 39% opposing it.

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