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View from the Capitol: The payroll tax reduction extensionPosted Friday, February 17, 2012, at 8:43 PM
This week your elected representatives in the House and the Senate were able to come to an agreement which extends the payroll contribution reductions through the end of the year, passed important unemployment reforms, and ensured seniors and the disabled are still able to access health care by averting a 27% cut in the reimbursement rates for doctors of Medicare. Although I had hoped for even more reforms to these vital programs, I believe that it represents a needed start.
The unemployment insurance program extends benefits for the unemployed but allows states for the first time to enact innovative reforms to empower those looking for work to find jobs. It also allows states to enact accountability reforms such as requiring drug testing of recipients. I support these measures.
The extension of the 2% payroll (Social Security) contribution reduction from 6.2% to 4.2% will allow the average American family with a $50,000 income to save approximately $1,000 a year. This will be helpful to families in this tough economy. It does, however, shift the burden of funding Social Security to the federal government instead of being an exclusive contribution system by Americans for Americans. I have concerns about this and believe we need to look at this 'payroll tax holiday' in the future to keep the system solvent while not further burdening the national debt.
The third component of this legislation is good news for seniors and the disabled. By averting the 27% cut to physicians' Medicare reimbursements, those most vulnerable will still be able to find a doctor who serves Medicare patients. The proposed 27% cut would have made it cost-prohibitive to provide care for our most needy. With these changes the elderly will retain choices in their health care delivery and access to a doctor to provide care in their local community.
In other news, President Obama unveiled his 2013 budget proposal, which is another call for more taxing and spending to further burden America's job creators and harm our fragile economy. This ill-conceived proposal includes $1.9 trillion in additional taxes, risking a deepening of our economic recession.
The President's proposal also takes money from defense and shifts it to wasteful spending on programs and bureaucracies. Our military is undergoing dangerous cuts as a result of the Budget Control Act I voted against. Now, the President is calling for reductions, in real terms, while we have troops in combat.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am committed to fighting the President's desire to increase domestic spending on the backs of our men and women in uniform. It is unacceptable!
Our highest budget priorities must be national defense, protecting seniors, and cutting President Obama's massive deficits.
Have a good week.
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Vicky Hartzler is the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She was raised on a farm in Archie, and lives with her husband, Lowell and daughter, Tiffany, on a working farm in Cass County. She is a graduate of both the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983 and Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) in 1992, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Education from MU and a M.S. in Education from Central Missouri. For more information, visit http://hartzler.house.gov.
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