Updated: January 4, 2013 at 12:00 am
Thank you, Washington politicians. You saved us again.
Congress and President Barack Obama created a cliff. Then they threatened to throw us off the cliff. After creating tension and fear about a terrifying fall, they kindly decided to save us from the cliff.
Welcome to American politics in 2013, where governing bodies that were created to serve us resemble the playground bully who torments us.
The bully, like Washington, threatens harm and then protects us from himself at a cost of our lunch money. Washington made it loud a clear: Bad things will happen to little people if they don’t pay more for government.
To protest this proposition was akin to feeble nerds asking a bully to change his lifestyle. Perhaps he could make do with less. Maybe consider slimming down, Mr. Bully, to lower prices for those of us you “protect.” Good luck with that.
Because politicians saved us from a crisis they concocted, most Americans will find it more difficult to put tires on the car or food in the fridge this year. The new fiscal cliff deal takes nearly $1,000 in additional payroll taxes from our paychecks by undoing Obama’s celebrated middle-class tax cut.
As the reimposition of nearly $1,000 in taxes hurts middle class Americans, and therefore the economy, Americans should ask themselves whether Obama’s tax cut was really a tax cut at all. It was, in truth, something quite different.
Obama’s payroll tax reduction, in which government seemingly blessed us with more money in 2012, was a classic raid on Social Security. By reducing what Americans pay into the fund, Democrats essentially took more than $120 billion from the Social Security trust fund — which was nearing insolvency.
For a bully to mimic this faux benevolence, he would tell “customers” to keep their lunch money today while funding his protection racket with a raid on their piggy banks.
Government forces Americans to invest in Social Security for the sake of their individual futures. Workers expect the trust to remain solvent, so they can get their money out during retirement.
Obama and other Democrats passed the payroll tax cut and created an illusion that liberals, like conservatives, favor tax cuts. They supposedly wanted us to keep more of our pay, but are completely unwilling to reduce the size and scope of government to achieve this goal.
It was a brilliant ploy leading up to Obama’s re-election. For most taxpayers who didn’t lose their jobs, getting that new set of tires was a bit easier in 2012 than in previous years. Nearly $1,000 added to the household budget is meaningful stuff for someone making, say, $50,000. It pays for Christmas, back-to-school expenses or 20 full tanks of gas in the car. It spreads the wealth to people who sell goods and services to average consumers. The counterfeit tax cut did exactly what Obama wanted. It created a pretense of economic recovery and government compassion.
Now that Obama is safe for another term, and Democrats control Washington, politicians have no use for the artificial tax cut. The reduction in payroll taxes, untouchable before November, is suddenly expendable because it is in the mix that saves us from a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad fall.
Government sells out this country’s future to benefit the immediate interests of politicians. If that weren’t true, we wouldn’t have a debt crisis and debates about debt limits. We should expect this in a culture that’s more enamored with power and status than character and morality.
Some economists predict Social Security’s full insolvency by 2036, just 23 years from now. If correct, Americans will draw Social Security checks funded only by younger workers who pay into the system. That’s a bit of a problem, considering demographic trends show us how retirees may outnumber workers by then.
No government should force one adult to live for another, let alone one person to live and work for several other persons. But that’s where we’re heading, and Obama’s phony pre-election “tax cut” will get us there sooner.
We were played like an ugly old ukulele by brilliant politicians. Obama and Congress created a temporary illusion of wealth with another radically irresponsible and unethical decision to borrow from Americans so young they have no say. It created a sense of well-being that improved Washington’s image. Then politicians constructed a crisis so frightening their constituents would tolerate almost any cure, including a reversal of the “tax cut.”
That’s why 2013 might seem a bit more difficult than 2012, but at least we’ll steal a bit less from younger generations who cannot hold accountable today’s politicians.