As I write, the Republican dominated House is about to vote its pleasure on continuing the payroll tax cut, that is, the downsizing of paycheck contributions to Social Security formerly set at 6.2 on the initial $106,800 of income. This percentage had been in play since 1990 until it was cut this year to 4.2 as a move to stimulate consumer spending and help rekindle the economy.
The President would like to see it cut still more, or to 3.1 in 2012. The Republicans, bent on reducing deficit spending, have also included a measure to reduce federal unemployment insurance benefits from the current 73 weeks to 33 weeks. (Federal benefits begin when workers have exhausted state unemployment compensation, which usually runs 26-weeks.) They are also proposing a means test for Medicare recipients who have income exceeding $80,000. Income includes Social Security benefits, which is already subject to taxation. It's a curious kind of legislation: one hand gives; the other takes away.
Since Republicans have made much of their opposition to increasing taxes, you would think it would be a no-brainer to agree to continue the payroll tax cut, but this isn’t the way this increasingly irascible party of ideologues thinks these days and it’s here they’ve revealed their hand, making a proviso in the bill that the controversial, now delayed, Keystone XL Project be implemented speedily, all of this in the face of a promised veto by the President. Seems they’re more interested once again in corporate profits than the welfare of the American people, many of whom cannot find work in an economy spun on its heels by a Wall Street/Banking axis.
The Republicans amaze me. If ever there were a political entity bent on self-destruction, you have it now in this current goon squad defiantly bent on disrupting the political process, callous to the middle class and the growing poor.
Just look at the pack of loonies seeking to run against the President in 2012. This is the cast of characters who’ve accused Obama of not being American born; deny global warming; want to cut back the EPA’s budget, if not abolish the agency; support a cut-off in aid to nations allowing abortion; and have vociferously opposed gays. One candidate denies evolution. One candidate, a former front runner, withdrew amid multiple accusations of harassing women, while the current front runner seems to prefer serial polygamy, though touting family values. GAWD, this is more fun than the circus!
I'm looking forward to November 2012 and Americans throwing these architects of gridlock out of office in what increasingly promises to be a landslide of their own making.