The Republican-led U.S. House has passed a bill that would extend the payroll tax cut, but it also would speed approval of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska, as Republicans say the project will create jobs. Senate Democrats oppose the oil pipeline provisions and argue federal inspectors need more time to examine questions about the pipeline that would stretch from Alberta, Canada to Texas.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is slamming Republicans for dragging out the debate, since both parties now agree on the payroll tax extension. “This is the problem with Washington. This is the problem with Congress. It’s the reason why they’re at a record low in terms of citizen satisfaction and approval,” Vilsack says. “In Iowa, when I was governor, I worked with a Republican legislature. We got things done because people expected us to get things done. That’s what they were paying us to do.”
House GOP leaders inserted the Keystone provision in the tax legislation. Vilsack argues “momentum” in the economy is at stake if Congress doesn’t come to some agreement.
“Virtually every noted economist in this country, whether they’re progressive or conservative, have indicated that the payroll tax extension and expansion will be helpful to the economy, will help to stimulate economic activity,” Vilsack says, “which in turn will lead to job growth.”
Vilsack says typical Nebraska families will see several hundred more dollars taken out of their January paychecks if congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut.
“It is really important for us to continue the momentum that’s been building in rural communities. The unemployment rate has gone down in rural America at a faster rate than in any other part of the country. It’s now below the unemployment rate in urban centers for the first time in a while,” Vislack says. “We want to continue that and the last thing this economy needs is for small businesses and families to receive a tax increase.”
According to Vilsack, the proposal President Obama’s pressing congress to pass would mean a tax cut for thousands of small businesses in Nebraska.
“Some farm families and operations actually hire workers and so the payroll tax for small business would also impact and affect their operations in terms of the bottom line,” Vilsack says, “so whether you’re a farm-owner with employees or you’re working off the farm, this proposal matters.”