By Leland Conway
This argument over a 2% payroll tax cut is stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a tax cut. I believe the economy works best, when we regular folks get to keep more of our hard earned money. But that doesn’t change how dysfunctional Washington has been during this whole process.
First, let me point out that we have spent the last two years listening to the Democrats whine that Republicans want to kill Grandma by making changes (or as they call them “cuts”) to Social Security. Then, for the last few months of 2011 we hear them talk about cutting taxes for the middle class through this payroll tax cut. Unfortunately, most Americans don’t seem to realize that it’s the payroll tax that funds Social Security – so, cutting the payroll tax means cutting funding for social security.
Ironically, back in August, the President said that if we didn’t raise America’s debt ceiling, we wouldn’t have the money to send out Social Security checks. Less than a month later, he’s arguing that we cut funding for social security so we can give the rest of America a tax cut? Now who’s trying to push Grandma off the cliff?
But this column isn’t meant to criticize Democrats while praising Republicans. If the Republicans wanted to advocate a tax cut, they should have argued to permanently lower the income tax rate by 2%. Then Grandma and Grandpa could keep getting their social security checks and everyone else gets to keep more of their own money. See how easy that was? It’s not rocket science.
Yet the Republicans nearly shut down government over the Holidays, not because they wanted to make a principled stand but rather because they wanted to argue with the Democrats over how long to cut funding for social security, two months or a year. If the Democrats in Washington are downright mean for falsely accusing the Republicans of cutting into Grandma’s retirement nest egg while actually doing it themselves, then the Republicans in Washington are just plain stupid for not seeing it coming.
This whole argument was never about what’s best for the country, but rather who gets to keep pulling the strings on the status quo.
The Democrats should be ashamed of themselves for being deceitful and mean. The Republicans should be embarrassed for getting the wool pulled over their eyes. I demand an apology from both of them.
The real discussion we need to be having in this country is over broad-based tax reform, not incremental tax relief. It’s the difference between operating on the open wound, versus trying to stretch a thin Band-Aid across it.
There’s no question that there are some at the top of the income chain that are getting away with paying nothing. Just ask President Obama’s friends at GE and Solyndra. But at the same time, nearly 48% of Americans pay no income taxes at all. Guess who gets squeezed?
The real answer lies in broad cuts to a bloated government and in broadening the tax base and lowering the rates, while closing the loopholes.
Both parties like to drone on about a level playing field, while both of them attempt to do the opposite. An economy where everyone plays by the same rules is a healthy economy. Real leaders would know this. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen such a situation in decades.
2012 could be a make or break year for our nation. Will we descend into an ugly class war, with its well documented outcomes? Will we continue to let the rich get richer while the little guy gets squeezed? Or will the statesmen step up and once again put America on the path to prosperity?