Congress revisiting bruising payroll tax cut fight
With television lights glaring, 20 lawmakers will gather next week to revisit the fight that consumed Congress before Christmas over renewing a Social Security payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
Little real work will be done, but the meeting will mark the formal start of an effort to untangle a dispute that both parties want to resolve, though for different reasons. Following is a look at the path Round 2 could take, based on interviews with participants on both sides.
Q: Can you remind me what’s at stake?
A: After a bitter clash and just a week before a New Year’s Day deadline, President Barack Obama and Congress renewed a 2 percentage point payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and benefits for the long-term unemployed through February. They also temporarily forestalled a deep cut in doctors’ Medicare fees that threatened to make it harder for the elderly to find physicians who would treat them. Now, the two sides need to figure out how to extend all three measures through 2012 and cover the roughly $160 billion cost.