Tampa Mayor Buckhorn stumps for payroll tax cut extension, but unsure how to pay for it
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12/07/11 Janelle Irwin
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Mayor Buckhorn at USF Tampa student forum in October.


photo by Janelle Irwin

Tomorrow the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a plan that would extend payroll tax cuts for 160 million Americans. On a conference call today Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn supported the measure, but didn’t say how he thought it should be paid for.

The tax cuts are set to expire at the end of this month, but as part of President Obama’s American Jobs Act they can be continued. There is widespread support for the cuts, but many people disagree about how to pay for them. President Obama proposed a three and a quarter percent surtax on incomes over one million dollars that senate Republicans blocked. Democrats are now offering a similar plan, but lowered the rate to 1.9%. Republicans would prefer a plan that incorporated spending cuts rather than taxing the wealthy. Mayor Buckhorn’s opinion was neither here nor there.

“That’s way above my pay grade. I think what the President has proposed, as best I can tell, is a combination of both. I think that’s the appropriate way to do it. I think we all have an obligation as Americans to share in the burden and also to share in the prosperity. I am supportive of anything by any methods that puts my constituents back to work, gives them a fighting chance to withstand this recession. But we desperately need that lifeline if you will and that $1500 that would accrue to the people that I represent Janelle, and the people that listen to your radio station.”

The $1500 Buckhorn mentioned comes from a projection on how much the average household would save. North Carolina Mayor Bill Bell was also on the call and U.S. Small Businesses Administrator Karen Mills said both states stand to save their residents an important sum of money.

“A typical Florida household making $46,000 that means $1,430 back in their pockets. For a North Carolina household making $42,000, that means $1300 back in their pockets. I know there’s a countdown clock on Whitehouse.gov shows how much time congress has to act and a tax calculator so folks can see exactly what the impact on their taxes will be if congress doesn’t act. Now is not the time to pull back.”

Buckhorn hopes the Senate will vote to expand the cuts. He says he is worried about many Tampa residents if the measure fails.

“They are deciding whether to chose between paying electric bills and paying medical bills and putting food on their table and I can’t tell you what that’s like for a mayor to actually live it, to breathe it, to see it happen to your friends and your neighbors. And particularly to the state of Florida, as many of you know on this call, we have been particularly hard hit by the collapse of the real estate industry. I think the Tampa area has shed more construction jobs than virtually anywhere in the country.”

And the proposed payroll tax cut expansion would also help small businesses. Mills visited cities nationwide, including Tampa. She said the business owners she met along the way need the cuts to pass.

“Small business have expressed to me that what would make them more optimistic and create more jobs is to have more cash in their businesses and that’s certainly what the other part of the payroll tax cut for small businesses would do for them.”

The added cash flow Mills added, would allow small businesses to grow which would mean more jobs. She says it is a crucial step toward strengthening the faltering economy. Congress has until December 31st to make a decision. If they do not, payroll taxes will jump from 4.2 percent to 6.2 percent on January 1.

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pay for it?

Let's charge all the Occupy (pick the location) protestors a protest fee and use that cash to fund the tax cut.