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House Rejects Payroll Tax Break, Unemployment Extension

December 21, 2011

DENVER - The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a Senate-approved bill which would have extended the payroll tax cut and long-term jobless benefits for an additional two months.

Without a compromise, Americans will see a 2 percent payroll tax increase on Jan. 1.

Kelly Wiedemer is worried how she'll make do when the tax increase kicks in. She used to work in finance, but lost her job in 2008 and has since managed to find only a part-time, minimum-wage job. She says her hours will be decreasing after the holidays.

"It really dawned on me for the first time. I said, 'Wow, not only do my hours get cut to 8 to 10 hours, but if this doesn't go through, that's 2 percent more coming out of my check. That's not enough money to really do much with anyway.' "

On Tuesday, Wiedemer says, she tearfully called the office of Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., asking him to make sure the payroll tax cut is extended.

"When you're in the working poor, number one, there can be periods where there are no bootstraps. Or they're just so - they've got to become so disenfranchised. It is a different world from down here."

For Wiedemer, the 2 percent tax increase will mean an additional $14 taken out of a weekly paycheck of $75.

"It's brutal when I can't buy things like toilet paper. That 2 percent makes a huge difference."

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for a one-year extension of the tax cut and long-term jobless benefits. The Senate bill had extended each for two months. The House vote included a call for the two sides to establish a joint negotiating committee to work out differences before year's end, but the Senate already has recessed for the year.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO