As reported earlier, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Susan Collins (R-ME) just dropped the details of their plan to extend the payroll tax cut, which includes other economic growth proposals. And both sponsors were explicit about the fact that their goal is to entice GOP senators to break their anti-tax streaks.
First the details on the legislation.
It renews the current two percent payroll tax cuts for workers and extends a 2 percent cut to employers as well, on their first $10 million of payroll. In other words, it does not deepen the existing payroll tax for employees.
It provides a tax credit for young, U.S.-based tech businesses, and renews other expiring business tax credits; It would provide $10 billion to state governments and require them to use the funds to seed state-based infrastructure banks, and provide an additional $25 billion in highway and bridge funding. To win GOP support, the legislation would delay for at least 15 months EPA rules meant to prevent industrial boilers and incinerators from emitting harmful toxins and pollutants — and impose other new regulatory requirements on federal agencies.
But, and this is key, it will be paid for exclusively with higher taxes: a two percent millionaires tax that carves out an exemption businesses that file as individuals, and a repeal of tax subsidies for the five largest oil companies in the country. If Collins and McCaskill can build up GOP support for this plan — or at least this element of the plan — it will be a turning point for the modern Republican party.
At a Tuesday press conference, Collins explained, “A substantial number of Republican senators have said that they oppose the surtax because of the impact on small business. So our bill eliminates that argument.”
McCaskill echoed this view. “By carving that out, and just leaving the passive investors and all the other folks on their second million, I’m optimistic that we can get more Republicans on this bill…. I think by doing that it takes some of the opposition out of the effort to tax those on their second million a little bit more.”
Republicans claim to oppose higher taxes on millionaires because of a its impact on a certain class of businesses, including some enormous companies, that, for political reasons, the GOP describes as “small businesses”. This bill exempts those firms. If Republicans still oppose this particular measure, it’ll expose their true underlying objection to raising taxes on rich people…which is that they don’t want to raise taxes on rich people.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.