56 House Republicans Once Supported 2-Month Tax Holiday — But Sponsor Says The Bill Was Quite Different

Dec 19, 2011 6:19pm

House Republicans are seemingly united in their opposition to a two-month extension of the payroll tax holiday, regardless of the fact that it passed the Senate 89-10.

It has not gone without notice among Democrats that dozens of these very same House Republicans supported a payroll tax holiday in 2009 and 2010.

In January 2009, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, asked his constituents “What Could You do with Your Savings From a Two Month Tax Holiday?”

He noted that he had proposed a two month federal tax holiday, “temporarily suspending individual income and FICA taxes for 2 months – meaning no taxes would be paid on those two months’ income. This way, instead of someone in Washington giving away your money to mismanaged companies, you would be able to keep those hard-earned dollars in your paycheck and use them to invest or buy from those you believe are providing the best services or products.”

In this effort, Gohmert was joined by 56 of his colleagues, including president candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who decries the payroll tax holiday on the campaign trail; and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, the chair of the Republican Conference, who opposes the current deal.

But Gohmert tells ABC News “you really can’t compare” that bill to the one that passed the Senate that he is voting against tonight.

His bill, he says, gave taxpayers a two month break from paying any taxes – Social Security, Medicare, income taxes – not just Social Security taxes, and not just a 2 percentage point reduction. His bill was paid for through un-used TARP funds, so Social Security and Medicare funding streams were not disrupted. And his bill “didn’t pit one group of Americans against any other,” he says.

In December 2008, Gohmert thought of the idea, which he estimated would have meant an additional $4,000 or $5,000 for the average family, and emailed it to five friends, one of whom was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. “Newt said, ‘this is brilliant, I’ll push it,’” Gohmert recalls. When President Obama met with House Republicans after taking office, Gohmert says he pitched the idea to him. “If we passed it on a Thursday, it would show up in their checks on Friday.” But nothing ever came of it.

In a statement that Gohmert will release tonight after he votes against the Senate-passed bill, he will acknowledge that “Back in 2009, I made the original proposal for a true payroll tax holiday that would allow people to keep every dime of their federal income and payroll taxes – not the small 2-percent fraction this represents. It was fully paid for by the unspent TARP funds, and my proposal was made before we were $15 trillion in debt. Unlike this temporary gimmick ‘fix’ presented to the House today, my proposal meant people kept the money they earned, Wall Street got no more bailouts, it established the entire year’s tax law, and the Social Security Trust Fund and Medicare were not underfunded as the Senate proposal does.”

-Jake Tapper

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