For those who haven't followed this issue, Obama has said he would consider raising the cap on the payroll tax, in order to put more money into the Social Security system. Presently, individuals only pay Social Security taxes on roughly the first $100,000 of their income.
It's a defensible measure on its own terms, since it would actually make the program's financing more progressive. Under the current system, a CEO pulling in several million dollars a year pays no more Social Security taxes than a profsesional making $100,000. It would also, as advertised, improve the program's long-term finances.
But in pressing his case, Obama has adopted the same right-wing frame -- of a Social Security crisis too politically perilous for most politicans to address -- that President Bush and the Republicans used when they tried to privatize the program. Although that effort failed, the fight is recent enough -- and myth of a Social Security crisis prevalent enough -- that merely echoing the language is enough to jeopardize the program (which, for the record, is most definitely not in crisis). And Obama should know better.
In this mailer, however, it's Clinton's rhetoric that's worrisome. It attacks Obama because "Nevada families need to keep more of their hard-earned dollars -- not less..." and "We need a President that will help hard-working families keep more of what they earn..."Feel like you've heard that before? You have. Whenever Democrats propose a measure that would result in higher taxes, that's the argument the Republicans make. It doesn't matter how little money is involved -- or whether, as is often the case, it's only the wealthy who will be paying more. It doesn't even matter if, rather than imposing a new tax altogether, the Democrats are simply proposing to allow a recently enacted tax break to expire.
THE PRESIDENT: If they have less money in their pocket, they may not come here. And so I worked with the Congress -- I want to thank Congressman Ehrlich, when he was in the Congress, now Governor Ehrlich. We cut taxes on people. It's your money to begin with, by the way. You've got more money to spend. And when you have more money to spend, it increases demand for a good or a service. And when that demand increases for a good or a service, somebody has to produce it.
And so the tax relief went for everybody, not just the favorite few -- everybody got tax relief. And it helped the economy. It also helped small business. You're going to hear from some entrepreneurs here. And, by the way, most new jobs in America are created by small businesses. We're happy to have the Home Depot job, don't get me wrong. (Laughter.) But the truth is, most new jobs are started by the entrepreneurs. And so you're wondering why we've got small business owners here, because I want you to hear from them. I want you to hear what it means to have a little more money in your pocket.
"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans. Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they've been fixed, then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful. They don't go around peeing on the furniture and such.