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Thu, March 21

Gosar discusses payroll tax, budget bills on tap this week

Joanna Dodder/The Daily Courier<br>
U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZDistrict 1, makes a point at the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum on Monday.

Joanna Dodder/The Daily Courier<br> U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-AZDistrict 1, makes a point at the Yavapai County Republican Men’s Forum on Monday.

PRESCOTT - U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar gave Yavapai County Republicans a rundown Monday on important bills pending in Congress this week, without saying much about what he thinks about them.

Gosar and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio both addressed the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum Christmas luncheon at the Hotel St. Michael in Prescott.

After saying Republicans should have been more involved in the Arizona redistricting process, Gosar said Arizona could lose two congressional seats in 2012.

He warned Republicans to take Obama's presidential campaign seriously. "They like the guy, they hate his policies," Gosar said of the public. That's why it's best to use phrases such as "government takeover" when talking about Obama's policies, he added.

Things are heating up as Congress tries to wrap up its work for 2011, said Gosar, who headed back to D.C. Monday directly after his speech here.

The House is slated to vote today on its GOP leadership's version of a bill to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment benefits past their Jan. 1 expiration dates. The 369-page bill also cancels a cut in Medicare payments to doctors.

While the Obama administration wants to finance these items with tax hikes on millionaires, the House Republican leaders want to finance the $180 billion bill by freezing future pay on federal workers, raising some federal fees, and requiring seniors earning more than $80,000 (or $160,000 for couples) to pay higher Medicare premiums. The plan was to be unveiled Monday evening.

The Republican bill also requires the federal government to issue a permit within two months for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Obama already has stated he won't sign a bill containing such language, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate won't pass it either.

Gosar didn't say how he'll vote on that or the $1 trillion budget continuing resolution that Congress must approve by Friday to keep the federal government operating.

He did say business taxes need to be "flatter" and "fairer."

"This administration thinks jobs are created by the federal government," he added.

Gosar noted that he introduced a Congressional resolution Monday of "no confidence" in U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder because of the "Fast and Furious" issue. HR 490 has 21 co-sponsors including Trent Franks and David Schweikert of Arizona.

"After months of evasive answers, silence and outright lies it is time that Congress speak up on behalf of the many people who have or will fall victim to the firearms in the flawed gunrunning operation Fast & Furious," Gosar said in a news release Monday.

Arpaio said he won't get involved in the Fast and Furious issue because he doesn't like to badmouth other law enforcement officials. They all make mistakes, he said.

Arpaio has been under fire in recent days over reports that his office failed to adequately investigate hundreds of sex-crime cases in 2004-2007.

In response to calls for his resignation, "I gave them a message by raiding another restaurant," Arpaio said.

He praised high-profile figures who have led protests criticizing his well-publicized tactics against illegal immigration, including Al Sharpton and Linda Ronstadt. "I raised $50,000 that day for my campaign," Arpaio said of Sharpton's protest. "I want him back."

When Ronstadt led a protest, "I had my guys play her songs so loud she couldn't talk," Arpaio added.

Arpaio's colorful commentary drew a standing ovation from the Prescott audience Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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