The Corner

Schumer, Norquist Spar over Payroll-Tax Holiday

On Meet the Press, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) dared Republicans to oppose an extension of the payroll-tax holiday, while Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, defended his organization’s decision not to label the holiday’s expiration as a tax increase.

When host David Gregory asked whether the Senate would agree on an extension of the holiday, which expires at year’s end, Schumer played pundit. “It’s hard to believe the Republicans would oppose this,” he said. “They’ve spent so much time fighting to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the millionaires, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t want to preserve a tax cut for the middle class.”

Later, Gregory confronted Norquist over his organization’s decision to consider the expiration of the Bush tax cuts — but not the expiration of the payroll-tax holiday — a tax increase. Norquist replied:

The reason why people view the one-year tax holiday that Obama put in a year ago as a temporary tax increase was that President Obama said it was going to be temporary when he put it in. When the Republicans in the House and Senate passed the ’01 and ’03 tax cuts, those were, as their advocates said, intended to be permanent. They weren’t for reasons of Democratic filibusters, but they were always intended to be permanent tax reductions. Obama was the guy who said that this was a tax holiday — calling it a tax holiday kind of suggests they viewed it as temporary. Holidays aren’t permanent.

Gregory also asked both men about Newt Gingrich’s ascendancy in the polls. Schumer responded with damning praise: “I give him some credit for not just blowing with the winds on an issue like immigration. That showed some real courage, and I think people are looking for courage and leadership.”

Norquist, meanwhile, used the question to warn Mitt Romney. “Newt’s put together a fairly radical, robust tax-reform proposal; I think the most written-out one is now Rick Perry’s,” Norquist noted. “I think Romney put his plan in very early, [he] needs to update it to catch up with sort of where the debate’s going.”

Watch Norquist’s comments on Gingrich and Romney below.

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