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GOP leaders pledge quick action on payroll tax break

January 29, 2012|By Richard Simon
(Fred Watkins/ABC/AP )

Republican leaders predicted Sunday that Congress would reach agreement to extend a payroll tax cut before it expires at the end of February, though it remained unclear under what conditions, ensuring that more partisan, election-year fighting lay ahead before the issue is decided.

"I’m confident that we’ll be able to resolve this fairly quickly," House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said on ABC’s"This Week."

"We'll get it done," Senate Minority Leader Mitch M. McConnell (R-Ky.) added on CNN’s "State of the Union," "There's broad agreement on doing the payroll tax holiday through the end of the year."

House-Senate negotiators are expected to meet this week on extending the tax break, which amounts to about $20 a week for the average worker, as well as continuing unemployment benefits and preventing a pay cut for doctors who treat Medicare patients.

But the parties have been divided over how to pay for the extension, which will cost the Treasury a projected $200 billion. The GOP took a beating politically on the issue at the close of last year, when a divide between Boehner and McConnell emerged on how to go forward and resulted in just a two-month extension. Neither leader appears eager for a repeat.

The Republican leaders’ appearances on the Sunday talk show comes as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) plans this week to introduce the Paying a Fair Share Act, which he said would ensure that millionaires pay an effective tax rate of at least 30%.

Republicans have opposed the idea of increasing taxes on millionaires to pay for the payroll tax cut extension.

"We just don't think the government has this problem because it taxes too little," McConnell told CNN. "We think it has the problem because it's spending way too much."

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