Congressional Democrats are making clear they want to focustalks for a one-year extension of a payroll tax cut on an issuethat proved difficult before the latest partisan brawl: whetherhigher taxes for the wealthy should help cover the plan's cost.

Congress yesterday passed a two-month payroll tax-cut extensioneight days before its scheduled expiration after House Republicansdropped their objections under growing political pressure.President Barack Obama signed the measure, and negotiators in bothparties are making plans to start work on a longer-term deal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, toldreporters yesterday that a surtax for millionaires may be part ofthe debate, as “everything's on the table.” The third-rankingSenate Democratic leader, Charles Schumer of New York, was moredirect on Dec. 22 about seeking new taxes on higher earners, aproposal rejected by House and Senate Republicans.

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