Boehner: 'You Can Take to the Bank’ That Payroll Tax Cuts 'Will Be Paid For'

By Matt Cover | December 1, 2011 | 2:49 PM EST

House Speaker John Boehner (AP Photo)

( – House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said there was “no debate” over whether a proposed extension of the payroll tax holiday will be paid for. If it is extended, it will be offset, he vowed -- apparently by spending cuts, although the Speaker did not specify.

“There’s no debate though about whether these extensions ought to be paid for,” Boehner told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference on Wednesday. “The president’s called for them to be paid for, Democrats here have called for them to be paid for. And so if, in fact, we can find common ground on these extensions, I think you can take to the bank the fact that they will be paid for.”

Congress is currently debating whether to extend a payroll tax holiday that is set to expire at the end of the year. That holiday saw the personal payroll tax cut from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

President Obama and House Democratic leaders have said the holiday should be extended and that it should be paid for and offset so that the reductions in tax revenues do not drive up the deficit.

Currently, the tax cut is not offset, forcing the government to finance $117 billion in spending with increased borrowing. The payroll tax funds Social Security, meaning that because Congress did not cut spending when they originally passed the tax holiday, it has had to borrow the money it needs to pay for the program.

Senate Democrats have introduced a bill that would extend the payroll tax holiday and lower the rate further to 3.1 percent with offsets in the form of a surtax on the wealthy, a proposal that Republicans have rejected.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that Democratic proposals were an unacceptable attempt to transfer wealth from one group of Americans to another.

“The President and Democrats in Congress are saying we ought to recoup the revenue we won’t get from one group of taxpayers by socking it to another group,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

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Instead, he said that Republicans would offer a counter proposal that would pay for the extension without raising taxes. But he did not elaborate on how that would be achieved.

“That’s why Republicans are proposing a very different approach to paying for this extension,” said McConnell. “We can maintain this tax relief without raising taxes on job creators.”

At his Wednesday press conference, Boehner said that House Republicans were more than willing to find “common ground” with President Obama and congressional Democrats on the extensions.

“We’ve made clear all fall that we’re interested in working with the president to find common ground on his jobs plan,” Boehner said. “And we’re going to continue to seek common ground on this issue.”

The White House has not issued a statement on whether it will accept an extension that is not paid for with tax increases.