Pressing the 'easy button'

Decision on payroll tax was a loser for the entire nation

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The national media happily trumpeted their belief this holiday season that House Republicans had been handily beaten in the payroll tax debate.

The truth is, everyone lost – especially the country.

It is sad and amazing to see how the Republicans fumbled the issue and came out looking like losers. How in the world did they manage that?

Consider: Democrats ended up seeking a ridiculous two-month extension of the current payroll tax cut. Republicans actually wanted a yearlong extension of the cut – a temporary boon to taxpayers and workers. Ultimately, the Democrat-led Senate went home for Christmas with a take-it-or-leave it two-month tax cut sent to the House.

House Republicans were forced to go along with it or have the higher payroll tax kick in at the first of the year – which would’ve been a huge public relations nightmare, and might have been a winning election issue for Democrats. Imagine the headlines: “Republicans raise taxes on workers, just in time for Christmas!”

To the consternation of conservatives in the GOP caucus, the House accepted the two-month extension – a nightmare for human resources and payroll departments all across the country. The tax rate may change in another two months, or it may not.

So Democrats got their little win.

On closer inspection, it’s a Pyrrhic victory. For one thing, again, they managed to sell the media on the notion that a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut is better than a yearlong one. Come again?

More importantly, let’s look at what they’re all doing – which is to cut one of the last taxes that ought to be cut. Of all the taxes that Congress could choose to trim, they’ve chosen the payroll tax – which ostensibly funds our Social Security nest egg.

Think about that: They’ve decided that the first tax they should cut is the one that helps seniors get by in their golden years. A tax that helps support a retirement program that is already headed for insolvency.

It’s the most damaging, shortsighted tax cut you can think of.

Reason would suggest conservative Republicans are right to push for spending cuts instead. But emotion ruled the day in Washington – along with cynical election-cycle politics.

At its most fundamental level, this election will be about the battle of reason vs. emotion. Democrats will try to convince voters that it’s mean and hurtful not to keep the federal gravy train going – even as the train runs out of fuel, as governments in Europe already are doing. They will paint Republicans as heartless for wanting to cut federal spending (even if it’s to save the Union). Democrats will act as if we can keep spending the way we have been, and that everything will be all right. They’ll ignore the fact that we’re stealing from future generations to do it.

Though it occurred in the last weeks of 2011, the year’s first battle of reason vs. emotion is over. Reason lost.

Of course, it lost when the payroll tax cut became the “easy button.”

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omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 01/04/12 - 03:27 am
0
0
yeah, you'd think maybe

yeah, you'd think maybe shutting down some of the 700+ U.S. military bases around the world (why the crap do we have a presence in GREENLAND?) would be an option. long live the American empire! (not. i'd like a republic, please)

carcraft
25787
Points
carcraft 01/04/12 - 06:39 am
0
0
Never submitting a budget and

Never submitting a budget and refusing to vote on a budget the Democrats are forcing the country to rely on continuing resolutions and extensions like this. Then being the spoiled children that they are the Democrats have refused to negotiate in good faith and COMPROMISE, then when the Republicans refuse to do it thier (the Democrats way) the Democrats cry and throw temper tantrums and the lap dog press goes along with it. Obama's arguement was, well some families won't be able to afford pizza! If Obama really cared about pizza for families etc they would act like adults ands pass a budget. Americans would then have some idea what thier taxes well be and businesses can plan and accountants won't have to pull their hair out . This garbage will go on for the next year so Obama and the Democrats can play the blame congress game when it is really the Democrats fault for not following the Consitutional mandate to submit a budget!

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 01/04/12 - 07:06 am
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0
The AC editorial board

The AC editorial board strikes again with lies, half truths, and distortions. The 2 month extension was a Senate compromise so thr cuts wouldn't expire. The House GOP refuses to negotiate in good faith and continues to raise the bar when a compromise is is near (despite what some truth challemged commenters post). The White House and Senate Dems wanted a year long extension, but the House GOP refuses to hold a straight vote on the issue and instead added a list of measures such as, " allowed states to drug test all unemployment recipients, reduced the maximum unemployment eligibility from 99 weeks to 59 weeks, required the president to decide whether to build an oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf within 60 days, extended tax reductions for corporations, loosened environmental regulations, allowed higher premium increases for flood insurance, permitted state public safety networks to use the public spectrum for private purposes, increased the guarantee fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and froze the salaries of federal workers for the following year." The AC may try to fool the blind followers and uninformed, but a small amount of research once again proves them wrong. Whether it's incompetence or intentional lying is still up for debate.

draksig
167
Points
draksig 01/04/12 - 08:13 am
0
0
Tech, I never saw you throw a

Tech, I never saw you throw a fit when the Democrats in the Senate refused to hold an up or down vote on bills the House sent them. Yet, have the Senate punt the ball and go home to kill any chance of compromise negotiations, you want an up or down vote. And Obama's refusal to make a decision on the pipeline is a blatant partisan decision since democrat groups are on both sides and he doesn't want to upset or stop the flow of money from either. The refusal to allow the pipeline will destroy jobs and send the oil to china but Obama is voting 'present' again.

robaroo
734
Points
robaroo 01/04/12 - 08:41 am
0
0
We Americans would vote

We Americans would vote wholeheartedly for Santa Claus if he were on the ballot -very low taxes and high benefits. The AC is right about this being the last tax to be cut.

Techfan brings out a point the AC didn't. Congress tends to load up bills with all sorts of junk completely unrelated with the main purpose of a bill. If you really want a tax cut extension, don't put anything else in the bill to poison it.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 08:47 am
0
0
This "cut" is taking from the

This "cut" is taking from the social security fund. What's hard to understand about that? The Democrats would vote in a New York minute to do away with all mandatory payments into social security. They believe everyone should get it for "free."

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 09:05 am
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0
I think people have not been

I think people have not been told about the ramifications of cutting the Social Security tax. That money for the retirement fund of almost all Americans is now cut. That means lower benefits down the road for Social Security recipients. RM is correct that the Democrats no longer like the Social Security model. Instead of confronting its inadequacies openly and honestly (as George Bush tried to do), they plan on starving the Social Security Trust Fund with these payroll tax cuts, then turning Social Security into a "needs-based" welfare system. I hope all you young-uns who vote for Obama remember that when you approach retirement age.

Riverman1
83725
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Riverman1 01/04/12 - 09:14 am
0
0
I wonder if I can take those

I wonder if I can take those social security things they send you telling you how much money you will get when you retire and sue them when they tell me the bank account is empty?

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 01/04/12 - 09:15 am
0
0
"The refusal to allow the

"The refusal to allow the pipeline will destroy jobs and send the oil to china"???????????????? A couple of thousand temporary construction jobs to build a pipeline that carries one of the dirtiest sources of oil through the Ogallala Aquifer. Foreign oil, transported to a free trade zone to avoid US taxes, and shipped to Asia. So nice that some in the US are willing to risk the fresh water source for the "breadbasket" of the US so Canada (and the Koch brothers) can skip duties on oil they want to ship to foreign markets.

Riverman1
83725
Points
Riverman1 01/04/12 - 09:38 am
0
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Burn, I believe Republicans

Burn, I believe Republicans have been warning about spending social security funds for quite a while. I fault them, too, currently, for this raid on the fund.

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 09:59 am
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0
The idea of the payroll tax

The idea of the payroll tax cut came from economist Robert Reich, who was Bill Clinton's secretary of labor. In a column I just finished reading at Salon.com, Reich made this interesting statement regarding Gingrich and the Republicans’ taking over the House in January, 1995:

Before 1995, when I’d testified on the Hill as Secretary of Labor, I had come in for tough questioning from Republican senators and representatives – which was their job. After January 1995, I was verbally assaulted. “Mr. Secretary, are you a socialist?” I recall one of them asking.

The interesting thing is that Reich never answered the question.

Forcing Americans to pay into a retirement system is not something I agree with. But at least with Social Security, they are keeping accounts, and there is a clear formula (actually several) where they tell you what you are entitled to for all those years of paying in.

With these payroll tax cuts, we see the plan to let Social Security shrivel up into a welfare system where everyone is forced to pay in, but only those who really "need" it will receive benefits.

Jon Lester
2297
Points
Jon Lester 01/04/12 - 11:57 am
0
0
When are you guys going to

When are you guys going to come out in favor of lifting the ceiling on Social Security tax, so that everyone pays 6%, regardless of income?

justthefacts
21757
Points
justthefacts 01/04/12 - 12:36 pm
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0
And raise the benefit

And raise the benefit accordingly, right Jon?

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/04/12 - 12:53 pm
0
0
My goodness. I didn't
Unpublished

My goodness. I didn't realize the Republicans sent a "clean bill with no add-ons" to the Senate. Or did they send a package deal with the tax cut dependent on approval of the whole package? If I am not mistaken they wanted the pipeline to the gulf coast included, And why is the pipeline going to the Gulf coast if not for onloading to tankers and out shipment of the black gold.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 12:54 pm
0
0
Well, Jon, it's going to be

Well, Jon, it's going to be hard for Congress to follow your proposal when the Commander in Chief is insisting that they leave the temporary tax cut" in Social Security taxes in place for another year.

Little Lamb
45870
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Little Lamb 01/04/12 - 12:57 pm
0
0
Good question, MadGerman. I

Good question, MadGerman. I had read that the crude oil was going to be sent to the Gulf Coast because that was where the refineries were. I was wondering whether it might be smarter to build some refineries in the midwest and avoid such a long pipeline. But what do I know?

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/04/12 - 01:10 pm
0
0
Jon. You are so right. As
Unpublished

Jon. You are so right. As it stands right now I and you and probably 99.99% of posters pay SSA tax on our entire earnings. However some nly pay a small percerntage on their entire earnings. BTW if I am not mistaken, my SSA is reduced for amounts I make in excess of a certain (low) income.

BTW I just went outside and much to the dismay of the ACS the sky isn't falling, the countryy isn't crumbling, people are not moving out of their houses in droves and schools haven't shut down today, because the 2 month extension was approved. I think the extension will give us time for breathing room to see exactly what each party can do for the next 10 months to satisfy the royalty and at the same time dupe us voters into thinking it is in our interest. What they really need to do is televise any and all debates in congress do thet we (voters) can see what the little darlings, that are there to do our work, are actually discussing. I mean if they are really doing my work, then televise it so everyone can see who will profit and who will loose.

harley_52
23272
Points
harley_52 01/04/12 - 01:36 pm
0
0
The year-end fiasco with the

The year-end fiasco with the "payroll tax" question was nothing more (or less) than another staged "crisis" where the democrats could blame Republicans (and mainly the dreaded "TEA Party") for being uncooperative, unreasonable, and extremist. They wouldn't accept "yes" for an answer because they needed to further set the stage for the upcoming campaign.

Boener and the Republicans should NOT have caved.

justthefacts
21757
Points
justthefacts 01/04/12 - 02:11 pm
0
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Madgerman, you pay on your

Madgerman, you pay on your full amount and receive benefits accordingly. The folks who only pay on 106K are paid accordingly as well. What is unfair about that? You can raise the taxed amount and, to remain fair, raise the amount of benefit paid. I suspect, however, that is not what you had in mind.

allhans
23620
Points
allhans 01/04/12 - 02:54 pm
0
0
The most ridiculous bill

The most ridiculous bill Obama has signed into law, with the exception of Obamacare - the idea of taking from the already burdened social security program just to extend unemployment benefits for another 12 months is so asinine it would make one laugh.

burninater
9580
Points
burninater 01/04/12 - 03:25 pm
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0
What they really need to do

What they really need to do is televise any and all debates in congress do thet we (voters) can see what the little darlings, that are there to do our work, are actually discussing. I mean if they are really doing my work, then televise it so everyone can see who will profit and who will loose.
--------------
C-SPAN. You can stream it online as well if, like me, you don't have cable.

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 01/04/12 - 08:41 pm
0
0
justthefacts......you know
Unpublished

justthefacts......you know better........IT IS IMPERATIVE to tax those devious souls that make more than $106K....Take it all...they deserve NOTHING...(channeling Copperhead)

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 01/05/12 - 06:30 pm
0
0
Justthefacts. I see no
Unpublished

Justthefacts. I see no problem with extending the payment schedule out to cover people who earn over 106K. In fact it probably would have really helped the people conned by Madoff, and who now are trying to live off 600 dollars a month. The question is why does the government tax my full income but someone like Rush is only fully taxed on about 3% of his income.

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