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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn lines up to support President Barack Obama's plan for payroll tax



Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Wednesday lined up behind President Barack Obama’s proposed extension of the federal payroll tax holiday.

“Whatever we can do to assist people in surviving this recession and to incentivize businesses to put people to work is absolutely what we need to do,” Buckhorn, a Democrat, said during a 10-minute conference call organized by the White House. “This is the right thing to do. It is the right time to do it.”

Also on the call were U.S. Small Business Administrator Karen Mills and Durham, N.C., Mayor Bill Bell.

The tax holiday reduces the tax that workers pay toward Social Security from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent on the first $106,800 of taxable wages received this year. It is worth about $1,000 annually to the average family.

This year, that tax break is costing Social Security $67.2 billion in lost revenue. Those losses are being recouped, by law, through the government’s general fund.

The payroll tax cut expires Dec. 31, and Republicans and Democrats have yet to find common ground on whether to extend it and, if so, how to pay for it.

President Obama has proposed to expand the payroll tax break to $1,500 for 2012 and to extend it to employers who hire new workers. He would pay for it with a 3.25 percent surtax on those earning more than $1 million a year.

Senate Republicans countered with a proposal to have millionaires pay more for Medicare, to continue a freeze on federal employee salaries and to cut the government workforce, but the Senate rejected that idea last week.

Buckhorn noted that the proposed extension would add an estimated $1,430 to the budget of a typical Florida family earning $46,000 a year. The state’s economy has been hit especially hard by the collapse of the real estate market, and he said the extension could help 9.1 million Floridians.

“I don’t know how anybody could argue with that,” he said.

Asked whether he favored paying for the extension through tax increases or cuts in spending, Buckhorn said he understood that President Obama’s proposal includes some of both, which he said was appropriate.

-- Richard Danielson, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 4:32pm]


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