Is the Social Security tax holiday good or bad?

Commentary by Stewart Topping December 22, 2011

As I was researching the Tax holiday Bills in Congress I did it with the purpose of trying to understanding whether there was more to the difference of opinion that I could not see or hear. 
Today it is hard to trust any party or any Politician because it seems that a lot of politician are clueless on the workings of socialism and will say anything to get re-elected, pass any legislation, and yes to go home for Christmas.

The one thing politicians are good at is talk but with little or no action at all, just enough to please the majority.  Some politicians make a good case that we should be like being Robin Hood, take from the rich and give to the poor.  I call that wealth distributions, or how does President Obama say it; spread the wealth.  It is part of the platform of socialism.

Hopefully the new Tea Party elect-tee in the House will over time make a difference.  We must give them time and elect more to the Senate and House.  It may be our only hope.  Senator’s McConnell, Brown, Snow and yes Senate McCain are examples of progressive Republicans. They neither like the Tea party nor for what it stand for.  Why should we listen to them?  They have done nothing to cut the debt of our Country or stop spending

The battle over the Tax Holiday is a great example of what’s wrong with Washington. The House Republican Tea Parties are trying to make a stand.

What is deep down under the noise we hear?  

  • The Senate bill does not pay for itself. 
  •  The House bill does pay for it self by cutting spending.

So who’s looking out for us, I think in part it is the House Bill and the Tea party Republican.

Read the following comment made on the issue, looking at the bill itself.

Lots of debating and maneuvering with the social security tax holiday set to expire. Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Since social security benefits are based upon what you actually made and paid in isn’t it shooting yourself in the foot down the road? The less you pay in the less you will get. Sure it puts a few more dollars in peoples pockets right now (which is absolutely needed) but whats the trade off?
Is this how they (both parties) plan to shore up social security by reducing the amount of future payments to eligible retiree’s? Government actuaries are paid to calculate things such as life expectancy and projected benefit payouts years down the road. Have they calculated an estimated payout at present rates and future rates? Of course they have.
This tax break will affect the American citizens spending ultimately once retired. Personally I would favor leaving the social security tax rate alone and reduce federal wasteful spending and reduce the income tax rate to give people the extra money now. Just seems to me they have us cutting our own throats with this one.

What say you?

House passes GOP payroll tax package amid White House veto threat

Posted at 06:53 PM ET, 12/13/2011


(Joshua Roberts – BLOOMBERG)

The House on Tuesday passed a bill combining an extension of the payroll tax cut with several GOP-favored provisions, including language to speed a decision on the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline, setting up a showdown with the White House, which has threatened to veto the measure.

The measure passed late Tuesday on a 234-to-193 vote. Ten Democrats joined 224 Republicans in backing the measure, while 14 Republicans and 179 Democrats voted “no.”

All eyes are now on the Senate, which has twice this month shot down competing payroll tax measures offered by Democrats and Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reiterated Tuesday afternoon that the House GOP plan is “not going to pass over here” and said that he is “hopeful” leaders will huddle together to craft a compromise on paying for the extension and other measures.

“The only way you’re going to get something done over there is get some Democratic votes,” Reid said. “The only way I can get anything done over here is get some Republican votes. That seems to scream for compromise, and I believe that’s what we need to do.”

The House Republican plan would extend for one year the reduction from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent in payroll taxes for employees; it also would renew the “doc fix,” which prevents cuts in reimbursements to doctors who see Medicare patients, and would extend unemployment insurance, while gradually reducing the maximum length of time for benefits from 99 to 59 weeks.

If Congress doesn’t act to extend them, the payroll tax cut, doc fix and unemployment insurance are set to expire at the end of the year.

Amid opposition from some Republican rank-and-file members, however, GOP leaders crafted a package that would pair those extensions with some measures favored by conservatives, including speeding up a decision on the Keystone pipeline, authorizing the government to conduct spectrum auctions and delaying regulations governing industrial boiler emissions.

The GOP package also would require individuals who have not completed high school to enroll in a GED program in order to receive jobless benefits, and would give states the authority to make drug testing a requirement for applicants.

Republicans argued during Tuesday’s floor debate that the pipeline project would lead to the “immediate” creation of tens of thousands of jobs. Democrats have argued that that claim is inflated, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said earlier Tuesday that the Keystone pipeline provision “does have Democratic support, but not in this bill.”

“This is a partisan bill sticking the finger in the eye of those who disagree with the non-germane policies that are included, included simply for the purposes of energizing a small political base in their party,” Hoyer said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing. “As I’ve said, the Republican Party now represents, in my view, the narrowest base of any party in the 45 years that I’ve been active in politics.”

The White House said in its veto threat that the GOP measure was a political move that “breaks the bipartisan agreement on spending cuts that was reached just a few months ago.”

Reid told reporters Tuesday afternoon that Senate Democrats discussed “a number of alternatives” to a surtax on millionaires, Democrats’ preferred method of paying for the payroll tax cut extension. He added that Democrats still back some way of requiring “shared sacrifice” from the wealthy.

“One of the things we certainly believe, as does almost 80 percent of the American people, (is) that there should be a contribution, ever be it so slight, by the wealthiest of the wealthy,” Reid said.

The payroll tax debate comes as Congress faces an even higher-stakes argument over keeping the government funded through late next year. The measure currently keeping the government running expires on Friday, and leaders of both parties have begun accusing each other of using the funding bill as a bargaining chip in the negotiations over the payroll tax.

Detroit mayor: 1,000 job cuts amid budget crisis

By AP Staff November 18, 2011 1:20 pm

DETROIT (AP) — Detroit plans to cut 1,000 jobs by early next year to help deal with the city’s budget crisis and avoid the possibility of a state-appointed emergency financial manager, Mayor Dave Bing announced Friday.

The mayor’s office said in a statement that layoff notices will be delivered the week of Dec. 5. Bing said the cuts, which represent 9 percent of the city’s about 11,000 employees, will save about $12 million.

“Solving our cash crisis requires a combination of concessions and tough cuts,” Bing said. “Layoffs will be strategic. We will limit the impact on residents, protecting core services like police and fire protection as much as we can.

“Our fiscal crisis will require everyone to share in the sacrifice. We need support from our residents to help push our unions, businesses, vendors and elected officials to enact the common-sense changes we need.”

On Wednesday, Bing said in a TV and radio address that the city faces a $45 million cash shortfall by the end of its fiscal year in June.

Bing said the positions will be eliminated by Feb. 25. He said additional 2,000 positions have been eliminated since he took office in 2009. And he has outlined concessions needed from unions representing municipal employees, such as ending furlough days and making pension reforms, to save $40 million.

Bing also ordered an immediate hiring freeze for all civil service positions except the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. He said the department was exempted because of court orders involving its operation.

Millionaires on Capitol Hill: Please tax me more!

By Laurie Kellman November 17, 2011 7:28 am

WASHINGTON (AP) – Lobbyists for a day, a band of millionaires stormed Capitol Hill on Wednesday to urge Congress to tax them more.

They had a little trouble getting in. It turns out there are procedures, even for the really rich.

But once inside, their message was embraced by liberals and tolerated by some conservatives — including the ideological leader of anti-tax lawmakers, who had some advice for them, too.

“If you think the federal government can spend your money better than you can, then by all means” pay more in taxes than you owe, said Grover Norquist, the head of a group that has gotten almost all congressional Republicans to pledge to vote against tax hikes. The IRS should have a little line on the form where people can donate money to the government, he suggested, “just like the tip line on a restaurant receipt.”

One of the millionaires suggested that if Norquist wanted low taxes and less government, “Renounce your American citizenship and move to Somalia where they don’t collect any tax.”

In the silence left by the private efforts of the “supercommittee” to find $1.2 trillion or more in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving, free advice flowed in public.

And not just any advice: pie-in-the-sky suggestions from those not connected to the talks, mostly to reopen debates that have led nowhere. The millionaires want the panel to raise taxes on people who earn more than $1 million, even though most Republicans are committed against the idea. And 150 House member and senators urged a much bigger debt-and-deficit deal, even as a small-scope agreement is proving elusive.

While they were at it, the lawmakers insisted that bipartisanship was not, in fact, dead.

This group of House members and senators shared a stage and some jokes and signed a letter urging the supercommittee of Republicans and Democrats to find the required $1.2 trillion in cuts — plus about $2.8 trillion more. They all want the panel to avoid triggering automatic cuts as a penalty for failing.

So this uneasy alliance of 150 Republicans and Democrats will vote for whatever deal the supercommittee strikes?

“No,” said House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. “Nobody’s going to commit to the deal until they see the deal.”

What deal? There is no evidence that one is near, so the millionaires tried to meet with anyone who would meet with them.

The progressive caucus did, eagerly and on-camera. The rest wasn’t so easy.

At a basement entrance to the Capitol, a police officer pointed to the name badges that identified each wearer as “Patriotic Millionaire.”

“That is not a visitor’s badge,” the officer said. “Go to the visitors desk and get a visitor’s badge.”

Off they trudged, a group mostly of men in business-casual clothing toting laptops and umbrellas, to a desk visited by tourists and lobbyists. Badges secured, they headed in.

Lawrence Benenson, vice president of Benenson Capitol Co., ran into freshman Rep. Kristi Noem, R-Idaho, in an elevator.

“I’m with the Patriotic Millionaires and we want to pay more in taxes,” he told her.

Noem grinned.

“How much more?” she asked.

Then it was off to meet, not with senators but their staffs — and not in the Capitol but in offices across the street.

Progress was not made, by all accounts.

A meeting with an aide to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., opened with his aide announcing that the senator believes the wealthy pay more taxes than their fair share, according to one of the millionaires, Matthew Palevsky, a consultant and founder of the Council on Crime Prevention.

“We defined it as not paying our fair share,” Palevsky said of the 20-minute chat. “It was clear we were coming from different points of view.”

In a meeting with Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, the congressman faux-proposed — apparently — to an aide to the millionaires. She declined.

Then it was off, on a bus not a limo, across town to see Norquist.

Why were they bothering with him?

“That’s what I asked this morning,” said one of the millionaires, Frank Jernigan, a former senior software engineer for Google.

“It’s a media hook,” offered another, Guy Saperstein, a retired lawyer and former president of the Sierra Club Foundation.

Such candor is not the norm in these parts.

For his part, Norquist said he was ready for the group with a tongue-in-cheek Torah lesson: Maimonides and his “eight degrees of charity.” That’s what Norquist says the millionaires are essentially proposing with their tax-me-more pitch. Perhaps there should be a ninth, Norquist suggested.

“Nobody’s holding them back” from donating money to the federal government, he said as he prepared for the group’s arrival. “They’re saying, ‘Gee, I’d sure like to write a big check to the federal government, if someone would just stop stopping me.'”

Associated Press writer Larry Margasak contributed to this report.

Kudlow: A Super Tax Hike Spells Disaster

By Lawrence Kudlow November 17, 2011 7:30 am

It would be a great tragedy if a super tax hike came out of a supercommittee compromise deal. It would do great harm to the economy — just as much harm as President Obama’s various tax-hike threats. And on the Republican side, a super tax hike would irreparably split the GOP.

OK. Here’s the good news. In a CNBC interview this week, I asked supercommittee co-chair Jeb Hensarling about an idea from the Democrats to raise taxes by $600 billion to $800 billion. About $300 billion of that might be upfront, with $500 billion later from some tax-reform overhaul. This would be an unmitigated economic disaster.

But Hensarling was blunt: “Not going to happen, Larry.” He said no such deal has been presented to him. And if it were, he and other Republicans on the supercommittee would not support it.

Hensarling then added, “We put $250 billion of what is known as static revenue on the table, but only if we can bring down rates. We believe we can bring the top individual rate down to 28, 29, maybe at most 30 percent, and bring the corporate rate down to the median of the EU, 25 percent.” For emphasis, he said, “We have gone as far as we feel we can go.”

The Texan was referring to the Sen. Pat Toomey plan, which would lower the personal tax rate to 28 percent and head down from there, while at the same time putting limits on personal deductions (such as mortgage interest) for upper-income taxpayers. In other words, flatten the rates and broaden the base.

Net revenues would go up in this scheme for two reasons: First, the reduction in personal tax breaks; second, the economic-growth impact would be positive. This calls on the research of Harvard professor Martin Feldstein, who urged Congress to trade off lower rates with fewer deductions since the incentive effect of taking home more after-tax income would benefit the economy.

Trouble is, Democrats don’t buy into it — at least not yet. Senate supercommittee members Patty Murray and John Kerry have opposed real tax reform. And it has been reported that House supercommittee member Xavier Becerra opposes it (although Chris van Hollen might be looking at it).

But the whole trouble with the machinations of the two sides in this deficit-cutting episode is that the closer you get to the Nov. 23 deadline, the more compromises are made. Democrats are pulling hard for higher tax rates, which would damage the economy, while Republicans are making no progress getting any meaningful health care entitlement reform.

And the GOP is in danger of losing the narrative. Most of the noise is coming from Democratic proposals for higher taxes, while Republicans have not taken any entitlement-spending-cut scalps.

In all likelihood, Hensarling will succeed in his conference with the idea of making the Georget W. Bush tax rates permanent in return for about $300 billion of loophole-closers. The deeper-tax-rate-cut Toomey reform doesn’t seem to be gaining traction.

Trouble is, so-called tax reform would probably be handed over to the tax-writing committees in the Senate and House for a decision next year. At deal-time this year — if there is a deal — we won’t know what the tax-rate picture will actually look like. At least, that’s a risk. But it’s possible in a worst-case scenario that personal-deduction limits will be hammered out upfront, without any assurances of lower tax rates next year.

All this leads me back to this question: Where are the super spending cuts? Nowhere. So why not fall back on the across-the-board budget-cutting trigger known as sequestration? That’s the $1.2 trillion backup plan if a $1.5 trillion deal cannot be reached. (Hensarling called the $1.2 trillion backstop very important.)

Then at least some spending will be cut. And the trigger is probably better than a deal that uses Iraq and Afghanistan spending cuts that would happen anyway or fiddles around with the current-services baseline from which reductions are measured.

For defense hawks who object — since 50 percent of the trigger would come out of national security — any spending measures would have a shelf life of only one year: 2013. After that, new presidents and Congresses will do what they will.

In another interview, Rep. Ron Paul (now in a dead heat for first place in Iowa polling) told me the GOP should forget tax hikes and trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts. Out on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich agrees.

But for investors and people in business, a super tax hike would be the worst possible outcome. So take the spending-cut sequestration now, and then fight the real battle in November 2012. That’s better than a supercommittee deal at any cost.

To find out more about Lawrence Kudlow and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at


Christmas tree tax tabled by Obama

By TIM MAK | 11/9/11 6:59 AM EST Updated: 11/9/11 7:48 PM EST

The Obama administration learned Wednesday that it is no fun being the town Grinch.

On Tuesday, the administration gave the evergreen light for a new fee of 15 cents on all Christmas trees. But after a day of media attention and widespread criticism, the Obama administration confirmed to POLITICO that they were looking to delay the implementation of the fee.

“USDA is going to delay implementation and revisit this action,” said Matt Lehrich, a White House spokesman, while denying that the fee was a tax.

“I can tell you unequivocally that the Obama Administration is not taxing Christmas trees. What’s being talked about here is an industry group deciding to impose fees on itself to fund a promotional campaign, similar to how the dairy producers have created the “Got Milk?” campaign,” Lehrich said.

The new tax was meant to raise funds for an advertising campaign promoting the benefits of live trees, as opposed to artificial ones. The tax was expected to raise approximately $2 million, according to McClatchy News.

Conservatives had been in an uproar about the new tax.

“Does anyone in America – anyone? – believe that Christmas trees have a bad image that needs taxpayer-subsidized improvement?” wrote Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) on his blog Wednesday. “All I want for Christmas is a free market.”

“The economy is barely growing and 9 percent of the American people have no jobs. Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?” wrote David Addington of the conservative Heritage Foundation think-tank.

A 12-member board would have been charged with directing the funds toward advertising and research ventures.

The industry was divided on the issue. Grower organizations in 19 states lit up at the prospect of the tax, while Christmas tree growers in Texas and Vermont generally opposed it, according to the McClatchy and the Chicago Tribune.

Indeed, of the 565 comments that were submitted to the Agriculture Department, 70 percent supported the proposal, and 26 percent opposed it.

Nationwide, there are about 12,000 commercial farms specializing in Christmas tree production, with an especially heavy concentration in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Fresh tree sales declined from 37 million in 1991 to 31 million in 2007, according to the Agriculture Department. Meanwhile, sales of artificial trees nearly doubled to 17.4 million between 2003 and 2007, according to McClatchy.

Alex Byers contributed to this report.

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