By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D) from Selma released a statement on the Extension of the Payroll Tax Cut and Unemployment Benefits, which passed the House today by a vote of 293-132.
Rep. Sewell said, “Today, I voted to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits. While this is not a perfect bill, the extension of these benefits will provide a lifeline for millions of Americans and further promote our nation’s economic recovery.”
Congresswoman Sewell continued, “It is unfortunate that the bill singles out federal employees that play an integral role in our day-to-day lives. However, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle came together to extend unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax cut, which helps our nation’s families by reducing poverty, infusing money into the economy, and creating much needed jobs.”
“We all understand that extending unemployment insurance benefits and the payroll tax holiday is a temporary fix to a long term problem. We must move quickly to adopt a comprehensive jobs plan that encourages businesses to create jobs for all Americans and ensures that our communities continue to grow and thrive,” said Rep. Sewell.
Rep. Sewell said, “I look forward to working with the administration and my colleagues in Congress on long-term measures that strengthen the middle class, sustain health care coverage and access for our seniors and promote economic growth and job creation.”
While the stock market is approaching where it was before the Recession and the economy appears to be in recovery, economic indicators like unemployment rate, total labor force, wages, home prices, housing starts, etc. are still lagging and the growth rate of the economy has not been impressive. Politicians from both of the political parties are afraid of contracting consumer spending during an election year.
Further extending unemployment benefits and the temporary Social Security Tax decrease however will add to the federal deficit which is currently as $1.3 trillion. The total national debt is currently at $15.3 trillion. Republicans had tried to condition passage of this extension on the President approving the Keystone XL pipeline, but President Obama refused. Today’s bill will add as much as $100 billion to the deficit.
Part of the package is paid for by increasing the amount that new federal hires will pay for their pensions from .8% of their gross pay to 2.3%. Currently unemployment benefits max out as 99 weeks. This bill lowers the maximum amount of time to either 73 or 63 weeks depending on the local job market. This will keep the Social Security Tax withheld from most workers’ checks at 4.2% until the end of the year. If this had not passed the rate would have risen to 6.2% on March 1st. This bill also delays automatic cuts to how much Medicare and Medicaid pays doctors.
Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell represents Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. The 7th district is Alabama’s court ordered majority Black district. Rep. Sewell was elected after former Congressman Artur Davis vacated the seat to run for Governor of Alabama.
To read Sewell’s comments