Congress passes payroll tax extension package
Congress today voted overwhelmingly to extend the payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and Medicare “Doc Fix” rates that are set to expire by the end of this month.
The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 passed the House with a 293 to 132 vote and the Senate with a 60 to 36 vote. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law shortly.
H.R. 3630 will continue the 2% payroll tax cut for 160 million American workers until the end of the year. The payroll tax extension will save each worker an average of $1,000 this year.
The law will also provide unemployment benefits to 13 million out-of-work Americans for another 73 or 99 weeks, depending on the state.
In addition, it will maintain the current Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors for another 10 months. Without the “Doc Fix” the physician reimbursement rates would have dropped by 27.4% beginning in March.
All three of these measures were featured prominently in the Obama’s 2013 budget released on Tuesday.
“This bipartisan agreement ensures that middle class families…will not see their taxes go up this year. It also guarantees that hard-working Americans looking for a job in this tough economy will not have their safety net ripped out from under them, and ensures that seniors who rely Medicare will continue to be able to see their doctors,” said Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “This agreement will keep us moving forward, just as our economy is gaining steam.”
The approved bill is estimated to cost more than $140 billion over the next 11 years, according to the joint House and Senate conference report. H.R. 3630 will require $51 billion in spending cuts to partially offset the costs. Medicare will lower payments to cover bad debts incurred by seniors who didn’t pay their co-pay or deductibles, laboratory services, preventive care to save about $21 billon. The remaining offsets will be paid for by requiring federal employees to increase their pension contributions by 2.3% and auctioning off public-owned airwaves, and each measure will yield savings of $15 billion over 11 years.
Payroll tax cut extension: $93.2 billion
- Will expire on Dec. 31, 2012
- Employees will continue to pay 4.2% instead of the usual 6.2% Social Security tax
- Self-employed workers (i.e. freelancers, small business owners, consultants) will continue to pay 10.4% instead of the usual 12.4% Social Security tax
- Will save an average of $1,000 (or $100 a month) for 160 million Americans
Unemployment benefit extension: $30 billion
- Will expire on Jan. 2, 2013
- Will provide unemployment benefits for up 99 weeks depending on the state
- Will provide one-year funding for self-employment assistance grants to help unemployed workers start their own businesses
- Will allow states to pass laws requiring applicants to pass a drug test before receiving unemployment assistance
Medicare “Doc Fix”: $21 billion
- Will expire on Dec. 31, 2012
- Will maintain the existing reimbursement rates to doctors who treat seniors
- Will continue existing reimbursement rates for outpatient therapy and lab testing services
- Will continue funding for ambulance services in rural areas
- Thomas.LOC.gov: Summary of H.R. 3630 “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”
- GPO.gov: Conference report on H.R. 3630 “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”
- Clerk.House.gov: Final vote for Roll Call 72 (H.R. 3630 “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”)
- Senate.gov: Vote results for H.R. 3630 “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012”
- WhiteHouse.gov: Statement by President Obama on the payroll tax cut extension
- Finance.Senate.gov: Baucus says payroll tax agreement helps millions
- CSpan.org: Video of House debate on the payroll tax extension
Category: Analysis, Congress, Current Events, Economy, Election 2012, Government, News, Politics, Social Services, Tax Dollars at Work, U.S. · Tags: Barack Obama, budget, Congress, Doc Fix, federal, federal budget 2013, federal government, H.R. 3630, Harry Reid, job training, jobless, jobs, long-term unemployed workers, Medicare, Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, middle-class, payroll tax, pensions, preventive care, rural development, Social Security, spending cuts, tax cut, unemployment, unemployment insurance, US Senate