by Kate Childs Graham | December 21, 2011
Many workers haven’t yet started their holiday vacation. They are still plugging away at work, fighting fires, filing papers, caring for children and treating patients. They are fitting in their holiday shopping, cookie baking and decorating after work and on the weekends. They are trying to make this holiday no different from years past, even though their wallets are much lighter this year. And those wallets may be even lighter next year, thanks to House Republicans.
Employing last-minute parliamentary trickery, the House Republicans are letting the clock run out on the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance, both initiatives vital to working middle-class men and women. Without the extension of the payroll tax cut, 160 million workers will face higher taxes in 2012, to the tune of $1,000 per year, or $40 per paycheck. Without unemployment insurance, six million jobless workers would lose the benefits that help them buy groceries and pay the light bill.
The House voted 229 to 193 on Tuesday to reject a bipartisan Senate compromise that would extend unemployment insurance and the payroll tax cut for two months, while lawmakers work out a full-year extension. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in the past that he supported the bill, but in the final hour kowtowed to the cries of tea party Republicans determined to crush the middle class.
Democrats, workers and activists across the country are speaking out, calling upon congressional Republicans to come back to Washington and pass the bill. On Twitter, people are sharing what $40 per paycheck means to them. The responses are stirring:
@rcantilles: #40dollars is half a day of quality daycare for my 3 year old son so I can put my full effort to finishing my ph.d.
@amyealways: For us #40dollars a month buys fresh fruits & vegetables, milk, a healthy diet, time together as a family (gas and not needing a 2nd job).
@Kate_Chase: #40dollars is a tank of gas or a few days of groceries or a wkly payment on a utility bill.
Heading toward the Capitol doors with a cheer after yesterday’s last vote, most House Republicans kicked off their vacations early, leaving this matter unresolved and the working middle class with less to celebrate this holiday season.