The payroll tax cut extension just passed without all of the drama involved in the two month extension at the end of the year. The Republican leadership failed to come up with a clear message in opposing the bill, and allowed President Obama to get the upper hand. So this time it passed with bipartisan support. But there was also bipartisan opposition to the bill, which was voted against by 91 Republicans and 41 Democrats.
Social Security is the Democrats’ sacred cow and any time a Republican comes up with a plan to shore up the Ponzi scheme the Dems scream from the rafters that the GOP wants to send Grandma over a cliff. At least there are a few honest ones out there willing to call out their own party for defunding the program. In the House, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) voted against the bill, and in the Senate Tom Harkin (D-IA) went a step further and took his own party to task.
Harkin (D-Iowa), who has long been a staunch defender of Social Security, hammered it as the beginning of the end for the program.
“This Congress will be making a grave mistake — a grave mistake — and reinforcing a dangerous precedent,” Harkin said in a dramatic Senate floor speech late Thursday. “And I’m dismayed that Democrats, including a Democratic president and a Democratic vice president, have proposed this, and are willing to sign off on a deal that could begin the unraveling of Social Security.”
Harkin argued that Social Security had always been strong and protected because it was funded by its own dedicated tax stream that ensured every American would be guaranteed a basic income in their retirements, and that the program added not “even one dime to the deficits or the national debt.”
But he said now that Congress was going to pay for this cut with borrowed money from the general treasury funds, the best argument of the program’s defenders was gone.
“With this bill, we can no longer say that. We can no longer say that Social Security doesn’t contribute to the deficit,” Harkin said.
He argued that a far better plan would have been to simply grant working Americans rebates on their income taxes, the way Presidents Obama and George W. Bush had done in recent years.
Hauling Social Security into the equation, he said, betrays the legacy of Democratic presidents who started the program and strengthened it over the years, from Franklin Roosevelt to John Kennedy.
“This, I believe has been the hallmark and the underpinning of the party that I’ve been proud to belong to,” Harkin said. “Cutting the payroll tax is a bad idea, terrible idea. I’m embarrassed that it’s being proposed by a Democratic president and a Democratic vice president.” (Read More)
What good is a Ponzi scheme without new people paying into it?
Remember this the next time a Democrat accuses a Republican of trying to destroy Social Security. It’s the Democrats who trapped Republicans into pushing this through.
Update: Charles Krauthammer weighed in on the payroll tax holiday.
“This tells you how bad our politics have become,” Krauthammer said. “Everybody here is so delighted that we finally have a bipartisan agreement and are celebrating it. Over what? … We have just added $100 billion [to a $16 trillion debt for]… a payroll tax cut that every economist will tell you will not have any influence on the creation of jobs or helping our economy. It is temporary and it will have no effect.”
Krauthammer explained that the way the government is paying for it makes absolutely no sense.
“And you know how we are paying for some of the goodies in that?” he continued. “We are auctioning off spectrum. Now you ought to auction off spectrum anyway. However, the idea that you are going to do that — this is a priceless commodity that the government is selling it off. Is selling crown jewels — it is selling the jewels to buy crack.’
“The payroll tax cut has no effect … it is going to make people smile for eight or nine months, $100 billion and we are selling, auction to do that. That’s the state of our politics today. And we’re all happy it was done on a bipartisan basis.”
Geez, it’s so depressing. Especially for the kids who, for the most part, have no idea what we’re doing to them.