Editor's note: U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, Richard Nugent of Brooksville and C.W. Bill Young of Indian Shores respond to Thursday's editorial, "They picked party loyalty over you.''
With all due respect, your editorial was a bit premature. The payroll tax cut was extended Friday for all American workers — not for a full year as the House passed two weeks ago and we would have preferred, but for an eight-week period that the Senate insisted upon.
Frankly, as we will find ourselves back here having precisely the same debate in just a matter of weeks, we wanted to explain why we believe that in voting for a full-year extension, we chose loyalty to America's workers over politics as usual. We chose to provide certainty for America's workers, business owners and doctors.
One of the reasons the approval rating for Congress is so low is that the House and Senate keep kicking important decisions down the road by temporarily extending vital programs. Home sales could be delayed in our area because the authority to write new federal flood insurance policies continues to be extended on a temporary basis. Our nation's federal aviation and highway programs continue to run on stopgap measures. Much of our tax code is a patchwork of expiring provisions, many of which help create jobs and economic activity.
Our colleagues stood up weeks ago and again last week and said no more to these short-term extensions. Throughout the past year we have been listening to our local business owners who tell us the economy will not grow and new jobs will not be created until there is more certainty in our economy and more certainty in government fiscal and tax policies. Temporary extensions breed nothing but greater uncertainty and cause business owners to delay their decisions about long-term investment and expansion.
We voted Tuesday to reiterate our support for that full-year extension and to request the Senate to return to sit down with members of the House to get it done before the end of the year.
American business owners do not make business plans two months at a time. They plan for a full year, at a minimum. State and local governments do not fund their operations two months at a time. They approve full-year budget plans. That is all we were asking the Senate to do — return to work, sit down with the House, and find a more permanent solution to continue the payroll tax cut, Medicare payments to doctors, and benefits to the unemployed.
The question we asked those who simply supported the two-month extension is, Do we really think it will be any easier to negotiate a full-year agreement in February than it is now during the Christmas season? Will it be any easier to negotiate a full-year agreement in the midst of an election year? And how will American workers and American business owners react when the turmoil of this next round of negotiations begins again in February? We will find out in the next few weeks.
The legislative process works. It worked again this week and we proved it earlier this month by getting our appropriations work done in a bipartisan manner. And we can use the same process to come to an agreement early next year to make this two-month extension a yearlong agreement. In this way we can start 2012 off with certainty instead of uncertainty and we can send the message to our colleagues in the House and Senate that temporary extensions, Band-Aid approaches, and government run on autopilot is no longer acceptable and will no longer be tolerated. That is why the House stood up Tuesday in support of America's workers, America's business owners and America's doctors and said enough is enough.
U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor
U.S. Rep. Richard B. Nugent, R-Brooksville
U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores