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Social Security tax break in jeopardy. Again.

Social Security tax deal overwhelmingly passed by Senate is opposed by House GOP. House Speaker Boehner says two-month extension of Social Security payroll tax cut is too short. 

By David LightmanMcClatchy Newspapers / December 19, 2011

In thisDec. 18, 2011, photo provided by NBC News, Speaker of the House, Rep. John Boehner, appears on NBC's "Meet the Press" in Washington. He criticized the bipartisan, Senate-approved bill that extends for two months a cut in the Social Security payroll tax, saying, 'Two months is just kicking the can down the road.'

William B. Plowman/NBC News/AP



The fate of the two-month Social Security tax break extension suddenly became uncertain Sunday as House Speaker John Boehner said he and most Republicans were opposed to the plan.

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"It's pretty clear that I and our members oppose the Senate bill," Boehner, R-Ohio, said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Republicans, he said, want a longer-term fix.

Boehner was reflecting the view of many House Republicans, who complained about the deal in a conference call hours after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the measure on Saturday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reacted angrily. "Instead of threatening middle-class families with a thousand-dollar tax hike, Speaker Boehner should bring up the bipartisan compromise that (Republican Senate Leader Mitch) McConnell and I negotiated, and which passed the Senate with an overwhelming majority of Democratic and Republican votes," Reid said.

"I would hate to think that Speaker Boehner is refusing to act on this bipartisan compromise because he is afraid it will actually pass, but I cannot imagine any other reason why he would not bring it up for a vote."

"It's time House Republicans stop playing politics and get the job done for the American people," said White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said: "This is the latest example of the tea-party Republicans sacrificing the good of the country on the altar of extreme ideology."

The $33 billion package approved Saturday would extend the current Social Security tax rate paid by employees through the end of February. The 2011 rate is 4.2 percent; it would revert to 6.2 percent if there is no extension.

The bill also would extend long-term unemployment benefits and continue current Medicare payment rates to physicians. Without any action, payments would be cut 27.4 percent next year.

It was thought that Republicans would support the temporary extension, particularly since they included a GOP provision to speed up consideration of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Obama administration had sought to delay a decision on the pipeline, which environmental groups oppose, until 2013. The Senate voted 89 to 10 for the bill.

But Boehner, as well as other Republicans, made it clear that they didn't like a two-month fix.

"How can you do tax policy for two months?" he asked.