Tipton challenger assails Republicans over payroll tax

The roles have been reversed when it comes to which party in Congress is willing to raise taxes.

After months of saying no increased tax was a good idea, particularly during the current economic conditions, Republicans say they now are willing to allow the federal payroll tax to go up as scheduled.

That is completely contrary to the stance they’ve taken since last year’s elections, said House Minority Leader Sal Pace, a Pueblo Democrat who is challenging Republican Rep. Scott Tipton for the 3rd Congressional District.

As a result of the Republicans’ stance, Pace and other Democrats nationwide have launched a campaign to pressure them to support reauthorizing the tax break.

“I can’t think of a good reason why we would want to raise taxes right now on working Coloradans,” Pace said. “I’d like to call on House Speaker (John) Boehner to demand that we put this gridlock aside, to put this partisan politics aside to ensure that the tax cuts that are in place for working Coloradans remains.”

At issue is the 4.2 percent payroll tax all workers pay toward Social Security. The rate had been reduced for the past two years at the behest of President Barack Obama to offer a tax break for workers. Employers continue to pay the normal 6.2 percent rate.

As of Jan. 1, however, workers would again pay 6.2 percent unless Congress agrees to extend it. That translates into about a $1.7 billion tax break for more than 2.5 million Colorado workers, Pace said.

Although Democrats say the tax break is needed to help all workers in the nation cope with the current economic situation, Republicans argue it has led to the Social Security trust fund approaching insolvency.

“The problem with the president’s proposal is that it raids the Social Security trust fund, taking money from our seniors’ most vital safety net,” Tipton said. “There are many alternative paths that can be looked at, such as lowering the income tax rate.”

Still, Pace and other Democrats question how Tipton can oppose continuing this tax break when he and other Republicans repeatedly have said all taxes should be lowered, and not maintaining existing tax breaks is just like raising taxes.

“I don’t understand why anyone would support wanting this tax increase to come back on working Coloradans, working Americans,” Pace said. “I can’t fathom a legitimate reason.”


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