GOP tries to pin payroll tax blame on Peterson and other Dems

WASHINGTON – After House Republicans rejected a bipartisan Senate bill that would extend the payroll tax cut for two months, the GOP’s campaign committee is launching calls in DFL Rep. Collin Peterson’s district trying to blame Peterson and other Democrats for the standoff.

The call script, provided by the National Republican Congressional Committee, accuses Peterson of supporting a tax increase on the middle class because he voted against the House Republicans’ first attempt to offer tax extension, a bill loaded with unrelated legislative riders that pushed other Republican priorities.

Still, it was House Republicans who voted to reject the Senate payroll tax bill, a measure that drew the support of 39 out of 47 Senate Republicans. With Senate leaders vowing not to bring the Senate back in session until January, the NRCC’s call campaign against Peterson appears to be part of a pre-emptive effort to spread the blame in case the payroll tax does rise on Jan. 1.

Ironically, Peterson told MPR News on Tuesday that while he has voted with his party on this issue, he would prefer to see the payroll tax cut expire as part of a broader effort to rein in the budget deficit.

The calls also come as Republicans unity is fracturing on the issue. Senate Republicans continue to denounce the House’s actions and on Wednesday morning, the usually conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page castigated the House GOP for its handling of the payroll tax cut.