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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 03, 2014

 
The real lucky duckies

by digby

.... have already maxed out on their SS contributions for the year.  I'm sure they'll be followed by quite a few more in the next month or so:
While almost all working Americans will pay into Social Security through their paychecks throughout the year, the 900 wealthiest people in the country won’t. That’s because the highest-earning 0.0001 percent of the U.S. — many of them corporate CEOs — made $117,000 in the first two days of the year, which is the maximum annual income that is subject to Social Security taxes under federal law.

It’s tough to say for certain who will be a part of this group in 2014, since the most recent available data on Americans’ earnings is from 2012. In that year, 894 individuals nationwide made enough to qualify for membership in this club, according to the Los Angeles Times. Economist Teresa Ghilarducci came up with the calculation, and points out that Forbes data on top earners enables analysts and the public to see some of the members of this group. There were nearly 70 corporate CEOs who made enough to qualify in 2012, including the top officers at companies like Philip Morris, NewsCorp, Starbucks, ComCast, and Pfizer.

They get to live the year free from Social Security taxes because the law says that only the first $117,000 earned in a year can be taxed to fund the retirement program that kept more than 15 million people out of poverty in 2011. Democrats have pushed to raise the cap in recent years from $106,800 in 2009 to the current level. Eliminating the cap entirely could make the program solvent for the next 75 years without cutting a dime from anyone’s benefits — and doing so wouldn’t touch the earnings of 94.2 percent of all American workers.
There is no real danger of Social Security being unable to pay its recipients, of course. Ever. It's just a matter of the government making the decision to write the checks. (They don't have to go down to Fort Knox and redeem the IOUs, honestly.) But considering that our understanding of how this whole thing works is so distorted by politics and an inability to recognize that the government does not make spending choices based upon family accounting logic that I think raising the cap is one of the very best ways to "solve" the crisis. The wealthy should be paying more in taxes for a variety of reasons anyway and this is an excellent way for them to "contribute" to the greater good. After all, if these so-called job creators were creating more jobs and paying people more perhaps they could save more money in their earning years. But seeing as these same people are perfectly content with allowing the Masters of the Universe to use virtually every investment vehicle for normal people like their own personal slot machines, we need to change the deal: everyone, the rich included, must pay exactly the same percentage of their wages toward Social Security and Medicare. That's called fairness. And it's as American as jazz and trans-fats.

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