Monday, Dec. 12, 2011 | 5:21 p.m.
As lawmakers dig in for another week of payroll tax-cut wrangling, Sen. Harry Reid is summoning his best imaginary to argue that the Republicans are in the wrong in opposing the Democrat's plan.
“Millionaire job creators are like unicorns,” Reid said Monday. “They’re impossible to find, and they don’t exist.”
Reid was complaining about the GOP’s stand against his efforts to pay for an extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut — levied on the first $106,800 of income — with a 1.9 percent surtax on incomes over a million dollars.
“They call our plan, time after time, a tax on job creators. And I say so-called job creators...every shred of evidence contradicts this red herring,” Reid said. “Only a tiny fraction of people making more than a million dollars, probably less than 1 percent, are small business owners. And only a tiny fraction of that tiny fraction are traditional job creators...Most of these businesses are hedge fund managers or wealthy lawyers. They don’t do much hiring and they don’t need tax breaks.
“It’s often said that what’s good for business is good for America...what is good for America is also good for business,” Reid said.
But Republicans are returning the Democrats’ challenge: If they are going to get all high-and-mighty about job creation, Sen. Mitch McConnell argued, they ought to be lining up to support the House Republicans’ payroll tax proposal, which would re-start the Keystone XL oil pipeline that would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Dozens of House Democrats have supported the Keystone initiative in the past, when it was presented independently.
“I have yet to hear anyone on the other side offer a single good reason for opposing it,” McConnell said of the combo bill. “They’d vote for these things separately but not together? That makes no sense...you’re either for this pipeline project or you’re not.
“Give Americans the certainty and the jobs they deserve,” McConnell said.
Democrats also are not huge fans of the effort to rewrite the eligibility rules on unemployment insurance.
Congress isn’t making much headway in resolving this standoff, as the holidays draw closer. President Barack Obama and Reid already promised to hold lawmakers past the holidays if they can’t reach a resolution and pass a payroll tax cut plan; House Speaker John Boehner has made no similar promise though members of the House GOP have said they’d be willing to stick around to see it get done.
The House sets up its bill for a vote Tuesday, and while it’s expected to pass, the vote count will be a test in its own right. According to Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, Boehner told his caucus “I don’t want 218 votes, I want 242.” A count of 218 is a simple majority in the House; 242 would represent all Republicans on board.