published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Chuck Fleischmann says 2 months not long enough for payroll tax extension


by Chris Carroll
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., stocks greeting cards under the watchful gaze of store owner Nancy McClure on Thursday. Fleischmann showed up for a morning of work at Sara's Hallmark Store in Cleveland, Tenn.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., stocks greeting cards under the watchful gaze of store owner Nancy McClure on Thursday. Fleischmann showed up for a morning of work at Sara's Hallmark Store in Cleveland, Tenn.
Photo by Jake Daniels.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., said he and other House Republicans won’t stop demanding a yearlong payroll tax cut extension as House and Senate negotiators plot a path to extend the tax cut for two months.

“We want to have more money in the people’s pockets,” Fleischmann said Thursday morning. “Two months ... doesn’t put enough money in the people’s pockets. A year is something we’re pretty insistent on.”

A few hours later, CNN and The New York Times reported on a deal that would require House Republicans to pass the two-month extension — a proposal the House tossed aside Tuesday — in exchange for Senate Democrats committing to negotiating a longer extension.

Fleischmann spoke with reporters during a “Chuck on the Job” stop at Sara’s Hallmark Store in Cleveland. This year, the congressman’s aides have arranged 10 such stops, during which the congressman works a shift and discusses the economy with employees.

“I love Hallmark stores,” he said. “They always put me in a good mood.”

Minutes into his 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift at the greeting card store, Fleischmann brought up the payroll tax cut issue, and at least one employee told him “a year is better than two months.”

Thursday’s “Chuck on the Job” came a few weeks before the first financial disclosures are due from Fleischmann’s four challengers, a group that includes Democrat Bill Taylor and GOP primary challenger Weston Wamp, the 24-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp. The younger Wamp said he raised $250,000 during his first fundraiser.

In a written statement, Taylor criticized his opponent as inflexible on the two-month payroll tax proposal — Fleischmann voted against it Tuesday — noting that “middle-class wage earners will see an immediate increase in payroll deductions” on Jan. 1 if Congress doesn’t pass the temporary extension.

“The 3rd District’s incumbent does whatever [House] Speaker [John] Boehner tells him to,” Taylor said. “Especially on this issue, this does not represent the moderate views of the voters.”

The campaign came up indirectly as the freshman congressman placed envelopes behind holiday cards and manned the cash register.

One worker complimented his abilities.

“I think we’ve got a good helper here,” said Nancy McClure, a co-owner of the store.

Another employee smiled and said, “He’s got another job here” after he’s done in Congress.

Fleischmann grinned and laughed.

“I hope that’s not for a while,” he said.

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