CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - While House and Senate leaders squabble over who should head back to Washington to deal with a payroll tax cut, FOX19 went straight to the elected officials to ask the tough questions about the extension.
FOX19 reporter Jennifer Grove spoke with Senator Sharrod Brown over the phone while he was in Cleveland Wednesday and talked with Rob Portman face-to-face in his Cincinnati office.
What do you say to those folks who feel like their representatives are playing politics with their money?
PORTMAN: It's true this should have been resolved last week. It should have been resolved over the weekend; most of us thought it was. Now hopefully the leadership can come together and make some decisions and get his done.
BROWN: You don't want people opening their Christmas presents this week, this Sunday, and [saying], 'Am I going to be able to pay these bills because my taxes are going to be going up in January?' What kind of terrible message is that? What kind of terrible position is that for the government to put so many families in Cincinnati in?
This [two month] extension was supported in large majority by the Senate, [with] bipartisan support. Why such a gap between the House and the Senate?
PORTMAN: Honestly the difference is over paying for it. To the extent you believe the payroll tax ought to be extended, but also paid for, then all we could do in the Senate was two months because Senate democrats would not agree to any additional spending reductions.
What do you say to those critics who have come out and said they feel like the Senate is just 'kicking the can down the road' for two months?
PORTMAN: A yearlong would be better, no question about it. If we could find the will to find those spending reductions to pay for it I'd be all for that, but if we can't let's at least do the two months and get this done.
BROWN: Sure we would have done a year if we could have negotiated a year. Frankly, it's better to do it for two months than not to do it at all and that's what they're causing us to do: is not do it at all.
In an attempt to get both sides of the story, FOX19 also reached out to Ohio representatives Jean Schmidt and Steve Chabot.
In response, Chabot released the following statement:
I am in favor of the payroll tax holiday. However it's irresponsible of Congress to even consider yet another short-term fix. In doing so, we shirk our responsibility to our constituents, causing greater instability to American families and small businesses. We need to extend the tax holiday for the entire year and I think it's shameful that Congress went home before accomplishing that.
All elected officials contacted say they are ready and willing to return to Washington if it becomes necessary.