Yarmuth says Keystone pipeline won't be a deal-breaker on payroll tax cut extension

12/12/2011 09:26 PM

The agreement that an extension of the payroll tax cut is necessary won’t be hung up by Republicans’ insistence on a provision to speed approval for the Keystone oil pipeline, one Kentucky Democrat said today.

In an interview with Pure Politics, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, a Democrat from Louisville, said the latest proposal, which comes from House Republicans, will get bipartisan support and opposition.

The House Republicans’ proposal includes the one-year extension to the payroll tax holiday, language accelerating the construction of the oil pipeline from Canada to Oklahoma, a provision setting parameters on an Environmental Protection Agency rule regarding industrial boilers and an extension of unemployment benefits.

On Fox News Sunday, Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell predicted the House GOP plan would get “significant” Democratic support.

But other Republicans have balked at the continuation of the payroll tax extension.

The payroll tax helps fund Social Security, which wen into the red in 2010 for the first time as it paid more out in benefits than the revenue brought in. So extending the tax cut would leave a bigger hole in the already underfunded federal program.

That’s why Yarmuth said the debate will continue to be over how to plug that gap. Democrats favor a tax on individuals who make over $1 million a year.

Republicans have rejected the Democrats’ idea of taxing the wealthy to plug the hole left by the tax cut. But McConnell said he wasn’t defending the wealthy by rejecting the Democrats’ proposal.

He said four out of five people earning more than $1 million are business owners who are responsible for creating jobs.

McConnell’s spokesman said he was referring to a recent U.S. Treasury report for that statistic.

-Reporting by Kenny Colston. Video production by Nick Storm and Kenny Colston.

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