Rep. Duffy's Irresponsible Floor Speech On The Payroll Tax Holiday

December 21, 2011 4:39 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Rep. Sean Duffy

Former reality TV star and freshman Tea Party congressman Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) has quickly learned what it takes to be an effective Republican politician: Do not talk about the actual issues that are dividing Congress.

Speaking on the House floor last night, Duffy explained that the difference between the Senate-passed extension of the payroll tax holiday and the one supported by House Republicans is that Democrats want to give Americans a $170 tax cut while Republicans want a more generous $1,000 cut. Here is Duffy explaining what's been happening in Washington the past several weeks in the simplest and most dishonest way possible.

DUFFY: We have introduced legislation that is going to extend the payroll tax holiday for 1 year. And what that means is, $1,000 in a tax reduction for middle class Americans throughout the country and in my district, central and northern Wisconsin, $1,000 for them as well. Across the aisle, a proposal has been made that started its process in the Senate, where we would do a 2-month extension, a 60-day extension, which means the proposal is they would offer middle-class Americans $170 in tax reduction. So we've proposed $1,000 of tax reduction, and the Democrats have proposed $170 in tax reduction. And I think as the American people look at this debate, they'd say, well, my goodness, I want to go for the $1,000 deduction, not the $170.

It's that simple, according to Duffy: Democrats have offered working Americans $170 dollars in tax relief and Republicans want to be more generous and are offering an average of $1,000 in tax relief. If only Democrats would support a longer, more meaningful extension.

It's not until several minutes later that Duffy mentions that there is a bit more to the disagreement than he suggests. He notes concern about the Keystone pipeline and Boiler MACT, an EPA air pollution rule, calling the latter a "key component of this extension."

That's really what the debate is about. Most Republicans want to extend the payroll tax holiday, but like with many other important measures they've debated since President Obama was elected, they're willing to hold popular bipartisan legislation hostage to other, often controversial, legislative changes that couldn't pass on their own.

The tactic Duffy employs is similar to that used by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who this morning accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of not caring about the issue. "When the negotiations broke down last week on the issue of one year, we weren't very far apart at all. And I think that maybe it was just the fact that Harry Reid and his colleagues wanted to go home," Cantor told Fox News' Jenna Lee.