The Corner

About That ‘Payroll Tax’ Cut . . .

What a farce. I mean the whole shabby mess, including the dysfunctional Congress, the mendacious president, and the utter and absurd fiction, now exposed, that the Ponzi Scheme is any kind of personally earned “retirement program.” From my New York Post column today:

It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas. President Obama is parading around in his Santa outfit as a “tax cutter” and champion of the middle class, and the seasonably spirited Senate on Saturday passed a package of goodies, including a two-month extension of the so-called payroll-tax holiday.

It’s a poisoned gift. This unreturnable little holiday bauble — a truncated version of a measure already passed by the House — comes with a very steep hidden price tag: the complete exposure of the Social Security “retirement system” as nothing more than a welfare program.

It’s all political Kabuki, of course. Obama wants to paint the congressional Republicans as tax-raising hypocrites, so naturally they’re scattering in fear. But have they thought this thing through? (Rhetorical question.) Do they really want the paying suckers to finally realize that Social Security is a fraud?

The fact is the program is broke — its own trustees estimate that its “trust fund” will run out of money in 2036 — and the “payroll-tax holiday” is only making it broker. That “trust” holds nothing but federal IOUs; the government’s been spending the money for decades.

This wasn’t obvious until last year, when Social Security started paying out more than it took in. Bookkeeping legerdemain can disguise the fact, but even the trustees know the jig is up. Says Republican Charles Blahous, one of the six trustees for Social Security and the even-more-broke Medicare: “This could be the beginning of the end of the idea that [Social Security] is an earned benefit.”

Adds Nancy Altman, the Democrat co-director of a Social Security advocacy group: “To have a Democratic president proposing to undo the dedicated revenue . . . it’s a fundamental change.”

It sure is. But it gets worse. Obama not only wants to extend the 2 percent holiday; he also wants to increase the “tax break,” fully halving the employee’s share to 3.1 percent, all in the name of “tax relief.”

Yet unlinking Social Security from its dedicated funding turns it into a welfare program. After all, the Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that recipients have no inherent right to their Social Security benefits and that Congress can change or rescind them at any time. Imagine what they can do when it’s just another federal giveaway.

I’m no fan of the Ponzi Scheme. But haven’t we suffered enough from these last-minute Christmas presents? Is this any way to run a railroad?

Bad things happen when Congress acts in haste late in the year. Two years ago, in a rush of parliamentary flim-flam, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act — ObamaCare — nosed through the Senate on the night before Christmas.

We’re still trying to return that “gift” — and we haven’t even started paying for it yet.

Don’t answer that question. On second thought, go ahead, do.

Michael Walsh — Mr. Walsh is the author of the novels Hostile Intent and Early Warning and, writing as frequent NRO contributor David Kahane, Rules for Radical Conservatives.


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