Payroll taxes: Is anyone actually listening to Obama?

I don’t mean that headline question glibly. What I mean is: Are people paying attention to the president’s words and thinking critically about them?

Obama’s remarks yesterday about extending the payroll-tax holiday enacted last year put the question in my mind. Once we get past the usual rhetoric about “doing everything that I can, every single day, to create jobs faster” and how members of the middle class can’t afford a $1,000 tax hike “right now” — remember, Obama’s benevolence always comes with an expiration date — we can see he’s making three main political points:

1. “I know many Republicans have sworn an oath never to raise taxes as long as they live. How could it be that the only time there’s a catch is when it comes to raising taxes on middle-class families?”

Obama comes to this alleged “catch” only after misrepresenting Republicans’ position. It’s true that they voted against his proposal to extend the payroll-tax holiday. But they have also been working on other bills to extend it. The president is counting on a lot of people catching a bit of his remarks today without having followed the issue very closely.

But what makes this part of his argument doubly perplexing is that he uses the “oath” — we can assume he’s referring to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge — as a club against the GOP for not supporting his bill, even though his bill would have raised taxes on those good ol’ “millionaires and billionaires.” He’s basically saying: Hey, Republicans, don’t violate your anti-tax-raising oath by opposing my bill, which raises taxes on some people!

Huh?

2. “Now, some Republicans who have pushed back against the idea of extending this payroll tax cut have said that we’ve got to pay for these tax cuts. And I’d just point out that they haven’t always felt that way. … Indeed, when the Republicans took over the House at the beginning of this year, they explicitly changed the rules to say that tax cuts don’t have to be paid for. So forgive me a little bit of confusion when I hear folks insisting on tax cuts being paid for.

Is the president seriously chastising Republicans here for claiming to be more fiscally responsible than a) they used to be, and b) the rules of the House say they must be? I understand he’s trying to accuse them of hypocrisy, but isn’t it a little odd to accuse them of hypocrisy that makes them more responsible?

3. “I’m willing to work with Republicans to extend the payroll tax cut in a responsible way. What I’m not willing to do is to pay for the extension in a way that actually hurts the economy.”

As far as I can tell from the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring, the Senate Republican proposal of Nov. 30 proposes to “offset” the $119.6 billion in reduced payroll taxes during the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years with direct spending cuts during those years totaling …

… wait for it …

… $79 million.

That’s “million” with an “M.” The proposed direct spending “cuts” don’t surpass even $1 billion in any single year until 2020. Its net effect is to increase deficits by $110 billion between 2012 and 2021.

Even if you interpret the bill most charitably, and assume the proposed changes in spending caps will actually transpire, the GOP is talking about cutting spending by only $6.6 billion in 2012 and 2013, while revenues fall by nearly $120 billion.

Neither Obama’s jobs bill — which would lead to an increase in deficits of $285 billion — nor the GOP’s proposal can truly be described as “responsible.” But it strains credulity to suggest reducing federal spending by between one-hundredth of 1 percent and one-tenth of 1 percent of the expected spending during fiscal 2012 and 2013 — “hurts the economy” while it’s still fragile.

To be fair to the president, maybe I should rephrase my opening question. Rather than asking whether anyone is listening to him, let me ask: Can any taxpayer afford not to listen to him?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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116 comments Add your comment

Really?

December 6th, 2011
8:09 am

sound of crickets here…

HDB

December 6th, 2011
8:14 am

Those of us who care about this nation listen intently to both sides…..but the problem is that the political cacaphony continues to drown out the voices of reason!!

Don't Tread

December 6th, 2011
8:25 am

The devil is in the details, as you have pointed out here. Unfortunately, most people’s attention span is about the same length as the sound bite they play on the newscast.

Wes

December 6th, 2011
8:26 am

carlosgvv

December 6th, 2011
8:33 am

Kyle, the Republicans are becoming more and more open in showing just how totally owned they are by the rich and just how little they care for the middle class and poor. Your journalistic skills are going to be increasingly tested in trying to make them actually look like they care anything for those who are not wealthy.

Scooter

December 6th, 2011
8:38 am

If recent history is a judge, we can expect the vast majority of “media” will shed zero light on the Chicago Pol’s loose use of the facts. But thanks for trying Kyle.

independent thinker

December 6th, 2011
8:39 am

Face it Kyle no matter how you distort this one Obama has called a chekmate on the GOP and Grover Norquist. Lets see how that buffoon Gigrich spins this one.

JohnnyReb

December 6th, 2011
8:44 am

“Is anyone actually listening to Obama?” Great line, Kyle. The answer is, only his loyal followers who will blindly support/vote for him regardless of his incompetence.

America (not me) foolishly voted a man into office whose beliefs are contrary to America’s core and whose experience is that of a Community Organizer. What is a community organizer? It’s a person who stirs up hate and discontent to achieve goals. Obama is really good at it evidence the growing divide in America under his leadership.

No, most sane people are tired of his face constantly on TV – he thinks all he has to do to fix problems is give a speech. Reminds me of my corporate life where people thought a problem was fixed when they had a meeting about it. Come on November!

Chuck Doberman

December 6th, 2011
8:54 am

Question is, is anybody (in Congress and the Senate) really listening to the voters? Americans are fully aware that the middle class will be the primary driver in an economic recovery. They also know that we’ve had GOP style tax cuts and deregulation over the past 15 years (despite the bluff and bluster from the right stating the opposite) and that the only people who’ve benefitted are mega-wealthy and those corporations that are people. They know that EVERYONE else has sacrificed, many to the point of losing their jobs, homes and credit ratings. The majority of Americans favor the wealthy being taxed more progressively (there truly is not a valid explanation as to why the incomes of our wealthiest are not taxed at the samer rates of we lesser people) and they want the middle-class payroll tax break extended. Yet the GOP sticks it’s fingers in it’s ears and repeats “LA LA LA LA LA” throughout all of this, only now scrambling to do something somehow so they don’t come out looking like wealthy folks’ bytches (too late). The oath to Norquist is, was and will remain counter-productive to America yet that is what republicans have embraced and defended up til now. Who are they listening to?

Voice of Reason

December 6th, 2011
8:58 am

Wes, Jay is merely regurgitating Obama’s talking points. That’s about all he’s good at. He focuses on only one issue: the payroll tax cut, ignoring the other issues that were put forth in the bills, such as the millionaire tax.

St Simons - we're on Island time

December 6th, 2011
9:16 am

wow..wow, if this writing gig doesn’t work out, apply at Cirque de Soliel.
They need acrobats that can twist like that. That makes MY neck hurt.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:24 am

Typical dishonest Republican bilge.

jconservative

December 6th, 2011
9:25 am

Fiscally conservative? Republicans?

Please!

Lets see. Reagan tripled the National Debt. George W. doubled the National Debt.

Republicans are wonderful at cutting taxes. Republicans are inept at cutting spending. To date they have not seriously attempted to cut spending.

And just so they do not feel left out, the Democrats helped the Republicans commit all of the spending sins noted above.

saywhat?

December 6th, 2011
9:33 am

The republican congress prefers to sabotage rather than help the economy in hopes of gaining more political power. It is shameful, but unfortunately, the right wing has no shame.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:33 am

Wes, Kyle is lying. Jay is just repeating what The Hill reported, that many in the House GOP conference don’t want to extend the tax cut into 2013, paid for or not.

UGA 1999

December 6th, 2011
9:34 am

He is a joke!

ragnar danneskjold

December 6th, 2011
9:35 am

Dear Wes @ 8:26, Kyle is usually right, and Jay is almost always left. That means Jay is passionate and almost always wrong, or more accurately, deceptively incomplete in his presentation.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:37 am

Liars like Voice of Reason and ragnar danneskjold ignore the basic fact that Jay simply quoted The Hill.

ragnar danneskjold

December 6th, 2011
9:38 am

Wasteful spenders, thy name is democrat. The story of the origina of democrats is found at Luke 8:30. The conservative democrats now number fewer than the wasteful republicans, who are also on the run.

ragnar danneskjold

December 6th, 2011
9:39 am

Good mornig TM @ 9:37, still brainless I see. Try some coffee.

[...] an extension into 2012. Legislation proposed by Senate Democrats yesterday would cut the …Payroll taxes: Is anyone actually listening to Obama?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Obama starts countdown clock on payroll taxUSA TodaySenate [...]

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:42 am

Still without a shred of honesty or other scruples, I see. No amount of coffee will change the fact that Jay simply quoted The Hill.

Voice of Reason

December 6th, 2011
9:42 am

tm, if Republicans did not want to extend the tax cut, why did they put forth a proposal to do just that? Please stop ignoring facts.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:43 am

“The story of the origina of democrats is found at Luke 8:30″.

Loonytunes bible thumper.

UGA 1999

December 6th, 2011
9:45 am

Voice of Reason….you are comparing apples and oranges. Read it again.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:46 am

VoR, you are apparently too dimwitted to understand the words “many” or “conference”. Meanwhile, the fact remains that Jay simply quoted The Hill, so saying he regurgitated Obama’s talking points is a transparent lie.

[...] an extension into 2012. Legislation proposed by Senate Democrats yesterday would cut the …Payroll taxes: Is anyone actually listening to Obama?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Obama starts countdown clock on payroll taxUSA TodaySenate [...]

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:48 am

“Read it again.”

That won’t change his view, which is forged from dishonesty, ignorance, and stupidity … a typical modern “conservative”.

UGA 1999

December 6th, 2011
9:48 am

tm….are you referring to Jay Bookman?

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:49 am

I’m referring to “Voice of Reason”, the person you told to “Read it again”.

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
9:51 am

Wes @ 8:26: How many is “many”? I note the story didn’t use “most.” The question is: Is Boehner unable to pass a bill, or is that just the intended impression? And that question is unanswered.

I also think it’s interesting that, when the Senate Republicans voted against a plan that reportedly would have “paid for” extending the payroll tax holiday with cuts to food stamps and unemployment benefits, they are criticized for voting against a middle class tax cut, not for protecting food stamps and unemployment benefits. How do you think that one would have been played if the parties had been reversed?

(NB: I used “reportedly” above because that’s not the plan I’ve seen, and I put “paid for” in scare quotes because, as I noted in the OP, none of these plans, from either side, are really offset.)

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
9:53 am

tm @ 9:33: See the first part of my 9:51.

MarkV

December 6th, 2011
9:54 am

Kyle: “…isn’t it a little odd to accuse them of hypocrisy that makes them more responsible?”

No, it is not odd at all. When the Republicans suddenly become “more responsible” when the issue is reducing taxes for the middle class, it is hypocrisy.

Kyle: “But it strains credulity to suggest reducing federal spending by between one-hundredth of 1 percent and one-tenth of 1 percent of the expected spending during fiscal 2012 and 2013 — “hurts the economy” while it’s still fragile.”

Kyle, are you truly that dense, or are you just pretending to be? What Obama is talking about is hurting the economy by denying middle-class people to have more money to spend.

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:55 am

“How many is “many”? I note the story didn’t use “most.””

Yeah, just “a majority”: “It backfired badly as a majority of Senate Republicans, including McConnell’s leadership lieutenants, voted no.”

“And that question is unanswered.”

Only for liars and imbeciles.

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
9:57 am

MarkV @ 9:54: The quote from Obama, also in the OP, was: “What I’m not willing to do is to pay for the extension in a way that actually hurts the economy.” So the “hurts the economy” part clearly refers to how we “pay for the extension,” not whether the extension happens or not.

But don’t worry. I refuse to stoop here to asking whether you are “truly that illiterate.”

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:58 am

“Kyle, are you truly that dense, or are you just pretending to be? ”

Modern “conservatives” make themselves willfully dense in order to push their counterfactual and vile ideology without their heads exploding.

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
9:59 am

tm @ 9:55: (Sighing) The “many” in the Hill story referred to “many in [the] House GOP conference.” Neither McConnell nor any of the Senate Republicans belong to the House GOP conference.

I knew this post was going to get some liberals’ panties in a wad, but I didn’t know it would render them incapable of comprehending the written word.

St Simons - we're on Island time

December 6th, 2011
10:08 am

when you have to have excuses for your talky points,
don’t worry cons, you’ve about reached bottom.

tm

December 6th, 2011
10:08 am

Kyle, you dishonestly suggested that there is merely an “intended impression” that it can’t pass in the House, when we know that it DIDN’T pass in the Senate — we know what the mood among Republicans on the hill is. I can read the written word — as opposed to your conservative buddies like Voice of Reason. Of course you expected your post to get a negative response from liberals because you know that it’s a sack of dishonest polemical, ideological garbage … you are campaigning, not engaging in any sort of reasoned objective analysis, and we all know it, so spare me the BS.

JF McNamara

December 6th, 2011
10:09 am

Why do you need to offset a tax cut with spending cuts? Don’t tax cuts increase revenue?

Isn’t that the lie we’re being told to keep tax cuts on the top 2%? Am I behind on the Republican propaganda?

Lil' Barry Bailout (Revised Downward)

December 6th, 2011
10:10 am

It’s a waste of time listening to Obozo, because the adults are running the House and none of his horsetwaddle will ever pass.

MarkV

December 6th, 2011
10:19 am

Kyle, you are right and I was wrong.

Voice of Reason

December 6th, 2011
10:25 am

tm: “That won’t change his view, which is forged from dishonesty, ignorance, and stupidity … a typical modern “conservative”.”

Glad to see we have already devolved into name calling.

I am sorry that you think that tax cuts for the middle class should be paid for by the rich (surtax) or by the poor (food stamps. unemployment). Personally, I feel that shortchanging an already nearly bankrupt program to “boost” the economy in the short term is no fix. Any proposal that increases the deficit should be shot down, and I applaud any effort that does such, regardless of the motives of the “no” votes. You liberals need to understand that markets run in cycles and that government spending to “help” the economy only prolongs the recession in the long term.

Please don’t take this to mean, as liberals so often do, that I support all Republican actions, because I don’t.

Also, I’m not sure what you mean when you put the word conservative in quotes. If by “conservative” you mean that I stand for limited government in all aspects and do not believe that others (especially the government) should be responsible for fixing my problems, then yes, I am exactly that, and proud of it.

UGA 1999- You are correct, I did misread that post which led to my apples and oranges comparison. Apologies.

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
10:27 am

tm @ 10:08: Do you honestly believe that there is only ever one bill on any given topic at any given time, and that opposing that bill equals opposition to the underlying idea? Or is that just another intended impression you’ve fallen for?

Dusty

December 6th, 2011
10:29 am

Is anyone actually listening to the liberal rants here?

No, because they are the usual snarls from brainwashed Democrats. Bookman runs a blog just for those types. Throws them fresh meat every day.

Please return to your den if you have no manners and cannot reason . This is a political discussion, not a duel to the death at dawn.

td

December 6th, 2011
10:31 am

tm

December 6th, 2011
9:58 am

Modern “conservatives” make themselves willfully dense in order to push their counterfactual and vile ideology without their heads exploding

And what is your interpretation of ideology?

MarkV

December 6th, 2011
10:31 am

While Kyle was right regarding the exact meaning of Obama’s words regarding Republicans’ proposal of spending cuts, the real issue of what hurts the economy is more important than this choice of words. It is again a hypocrisy on the part of the Republicans to be so concerned about the deficit, and still resist any increase in revenues by taxing the rich a little more, those people who have done exceedingly well in recent years, while the middle class income has stagnated – the middle class Obama wants to help here, which also would help the economy by increased consumer spending.

Kyle Wingfield

December 6th, 2011
10:35 am

MarkV @ 10:19: It happens to the best of us.

An editor once taught me that the easiest place to get sued for libel in this business is in the short, seemingly innocuous article, paragraph or phrase you write hastily, not the big, controversial expose on which you and a few editors spend loads of time. The blog corollary, I believe, is that you are most likely to end up admitting you were wrong about a point if it seems so obvious that you feel justified in attaching an insult to it.

Some commenter or another proves me right about that nearly every day. And, yes, I’ve been guilty of it before, too.

MarkV

December 6th, 2011
10:36 am

Dusty @10:29 am: “Please return to your den if you have no manners and cannot reason.”

Written by the same person, who in the same post calls liberal posts “rants” and “snarls,” and calls the authors “brainwashed Democrats.” Do we need a better example of hypocrisy?

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