GOP 2012 Candidates Split on Payroll Tax Cut

Michele Bachmann wants to end the cut, but most of her competitors favor extending it.

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The payroll tax cut is in jeopardy of expiring after the Senate voted down extension plans last night, and the 2012 GOP contenders are split over whether or not that's a good thing.

The one-year, 2 percent payroll tax cut was part of a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts last December. But Democrats and Republicans in the Senate battled over how to pay for the lost revenue that extending the cuts through next year would bring: Democrats wanted to tax the wealthy, but Republicans wanted to freeze federal workers' pay through 2015 and gradually decrease the federal workforce by 10 percent.

[Read: GOP Looks At Keystone Pipeline to Move Payroll Tax Cuts Forward.]

Here's a roundup of what some of the GOP primary candidates think about the tax cut:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich supports extending payroll tax relief, according to his spokesman R.C. Hammond. In August, Gingrich told a crowd at the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to Talking Points Memo, "I think it's very hard not to keep the payroll tax cut in this economy." He added, "We're going to end up in a position where we're going to raise taxes on the lowest income Americans the day they go to work, and make life harder for small businesses."

[U.S. News & World Report Debate Club: Should the payroll tax cuts be extended?]

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been unclear on his attitude toward the payroll tax cut. In response to questions about the extension, in the October 11 Bloomberg debate, Romney said, "I don't like temporary little Band-Aids, I want to fundamentally restructure America's foundation economically."

And on November 9, during the CNBC debate, he responded, "I want to keep our taxes down; I don't want to raise any taxes, anywhere. I'm not looking to raise taxes."

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has criticized the payroll tax cut extension in the past. "That's just small potatoes compared to what the problems are," he said on Fox News Sunday in September while touting his 9-9-9 plan. It's "too little, too late," he said. "It's not deep enough."

Texas Rep. Ron Paul wants to see the extension passed, according to his national campaign chairman Jesse Benton, but he is against offsetting the cut with any tax hikes, as Democrats have tried to do.

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP contenders.]

Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann wants to let the payroll tax cut expire. She was against the original package, according to her congressional press secretary, Becky Rogness. "At the time, she stated that a perpetual state of temporary tax policies brings uncertainty to hiring and other business decisions," Rogness said in an E-mail. "Her view has not changed." This week Bachmann said she'd fight efforts to extend the cut, according to the Associated Press, and she called the cut a failure. It didn't create jobs, she said, but it did burden the federal budget.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman supports extending the payroll tax cut, but "at the same time, it's nibbling around the edges," says Huntsman's campaign spokesman Tim Miller. "What [Huntsman] would want is a payroll tax extension that's tied to a commitment for broader tax reform down the line."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's and Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's positions were not available at press time.