News Releases

Senator Murray Urges Extension of Payroll Tax Cut for Middle Class

Dec 01 2011

"I am disappointed that many of the same Republicans who spent the last few months fighting tooth and nail to prevent tax increases on the richest Americans and biggest corporations, are now hesitating to give average working families a break"



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor in support of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011 (S. 1917), a bill that would extend a tax cut for approximately 160 million workers and middle class families.  Senator Murray discussed the fact that this bill would put money in the pockets of small business owners and encourage them to hire workers by cutting the employer side of the payroll tax in half.  She also noted that in past years Republicans have strongly supported payroll tax cuts as an effective way to boost the economy and create jobs and she called on every one of her colleagues to put politics aside and pass this critical legislation.

“This legislation is straightforward—and it shouldn’t be controversial,” Senator Murray said.  “At a time when middle class families across America continue to struggle in this tough economy, this bill would cut their Social Security payroll taxes in half—from 6.2% to 3.1%— which would cut taxes for 160 million workers across America.”  

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“In past years Republicans have agreed—and have strongly supported payroll tax cuts as an effective way to boost the economy and create jobs…I am disappointed that many of the same Republicans who spent the last few months fighting tooth and nail to prevent tax increases on the richest Americans and biggest corporations, are now hesitating to give average working families a break.”

“So Mr. President—this vote sets up a simple choice: Do you vote to extend critical tax cuts for middle class families and small businesses, or do you vote to protect the wealthiest Americans from paying one penny more toward their fair share?”

“I know where I stand. I feel very strongly that we owe it to middle class families across the country to extend this tax cut. And I think this would be a whole lot easier if my Republican colleagues were as focused on tax cuts for the middle class as they are on those for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.”

Earlier this week, Senator Murray launched an interactive map on her website to highlight the potential county by county impact on Washington families if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut into next year.  The median Washington family has a yearly income of $56,479. Under the current 2% payroll tax cut, set to expire at the end of the year, that family is saving approximately $1,130 per year on their tax bill. If the current tax cut expires, their yearly tax bill will go up by that amount. If the payroll tax cut is expanded to 3.1%, as proposed in this bill, that family's savings will increase to $1,751 per year

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech appears below:

“Mr. President, I come to the floor to urge my colleagues to support the Middle Class Tax Cut bill that would extend and expand the payroll tax relief for families and small business owners.

“This legislation is straightforward—and it shouldn’t be controversial.

“At a time when middle class families across America continue to struggle in this tough economy, this bill would cut their Social Security payroll taxes in half—from 6.2% to 3.1%— which would cut taxes for 160 million workers across America.

“In my home state of Washington, this would represent a tax cut of around $1,700 for a family earning the median income next year.

“This bill would also put money in the pockets of small business owners and encourage them to hire workers by cutting the employer side of the payroll tax in half as well, and eliminating it altogether for firms making new hires.

“In Washington state, 150,000 small business owners would receive a tax cut under this plan, and they would have thousands of dollars more in their pockets to spend in their communities and get workers back on the job.

“Mr. President—this is a big deal. Economists from across the ideological spectrum have said payroll tax cuts create jobs and boost the economy.

“And they have also said it could be devastating to allow them to go up in a weak economy.

“In past years Republicans have agreed—and have strongly supported payroll tax cuts as an effective way to boost the economy and create jobs.

“So this should be easy. It should be something that both parties can get behind and quickly pass.

“But unfortunately, Mr. President, politics seems to be getting in the way. 

“I am disappointed that many of the same Republicans who spent the last few months fighting tooth and nail to prevent tax increases on the richest Americans and biggest corporations,  are now hesitating to give average working families a break. 

“In fact, it was this very issue that prevented the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to come to a deal: Democrats put serious compromises on the table to get to a balanced and bipartisan deal, but Republicans refused to allow the wealthiest Americans to pay a single penny more in taxes and insisted the middle class, seniors, and the most vulnerable Americans bear the burden alone.

“This wasn’t fair then—and it’s not fair now.

“This bill is fully paid for by asking millionaires to pay just a little bit more. Just a small step toward their fair share.

“It’s not drastic. It doesn’t close the loopholes and shelters Republicans have been fighting so hard to maintain.  It doesn’t touch the Bush tax cuts for the rich they consider to be so critical. It doesn’t end the tax breaks for the oil and gas industry they wouldn’t allow us to close.

“It simply adds a 3.25% surtax on income over $1 million dollars.

“This means if someone earns $1.2 million dollars in a single year—they only owe an additional 3.25% on that last $200,000.

“At a time when so many families are struggling, we think this is a fair thing to ask the wealthiest Americans to contribute in order to give working families a break.

“So Mr. President—this vote sets up a simple choice: Do you vote to extend critical tax cuts for middle class families and small businesses, or do you vote to protect the wealthiest Americans from paying one penny more toward their fair share?

“I know where I stand. I feel very strongly that we owe it to middle class families across the country to extend this tax cut.

“And I think this would be a whole lot easier if my Republican colleagues were as focused on tax cuts for the middle class as they are on those for the wealthiest Americans and corporations.

“So I urge every one of my colleagues to support this legislation and extend tax cuts for the families who need them most.

“Thank you Mr. President—I yield the floor.”