It is frustrating that Democrats have been holding payroll tax relief for 160 million Americans hostage to the desire to impose higher taxes on upper-income Americans - some of whom are the very people who operate businesses that employ a lot of workers.
Democrats have at last dropped the demand that tax relief be linked to a "surcharge" on wealthier Americans. But they have still been holding up the tax relief in opposition to the construction of an oil pipeline from Canada to Texas that would create tens of thousands of desperately needed jobs across several states.
It is some comfort to us in this part of Tennessee and North Georgia that our region's U.S. representatives supported legislation this week to extend payroll tax relief without raising taxes on others - and to pave the way for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. That tax relief would sensibly be paid for by cutting other federal spending.
Tennessee's 3rd District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and 4th District Rep. Scott DesJarlais joined with fellow Republican Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia's 9th District in voting for a measure that would protect millions of Americans from a tax increase - while also creating jobs. With mostly Republican but also a little Democrat support, the bill passed in the House by a vote of 234-193.
"If they are serious about wanting tax relief for the middle class and lowering unemployment in this country, it's time for the Senate and president to act," Fleischmann said.
Alas, that is unlikely. The president, to appease environmental activists, said he will postpone for more than a year a decision on the construction of the pipeline. And Democrats in the Senate pronounced the House legislation "dead on arrival."
So the pipeline and the jobs it would bring will be delayed. And we'll all have to stay tuned to find out whether payroll tax relief will be renewed.