Jane Chastain is a Southern California-based broadcaster, author and political commentator. Despite her present emphasis on politics, Jane always will be remembered as the nation's first female TV sportscaster, spending 17 years on the sports beat. Jane blogs at JaneChastain.com. She is a pilot who lives on a private runway.More ↓Less ↑
What is your price, the price you would take to sell out your country? What price would you take to sell out your children? What price would you take to sell out your grandmother?
Would you sell out your country for a million dollars, a billion perhaps? What is the freedom that you now enjoy really worth? If you had a cool billion in your pocket, would you be willing to take your chances in another part of the world, under a dictator perhaps?
What about the future of your children? OK, I will admit to considering this question on one of their really bad days, but let’s be serious. Most of us wouldn’t take a billion to trash the future of our own flesh and blood. And Granny? You’ve got to be kidding!
Nevertheless, President Barack Obama, most Democrats and, sadly, many Republican leaders think you are willing to sell out your country, your kids and Granny for a mere thousand bucks.
This is crazy, but it is on the table – and the politics of extending the payroll-tax holiday in the run-up to the new year seem to be working.
What are they thinking? What are we thinking?
The problem is most of us aren’t giving this much thought at all.
Allowing the debate on extending this short-term stimulus to be framed as a tax cut is just plain wrong. The Social Security money deducted from your payroll is for your government-run retirement plan. It’s not a very good plan. You don’t have any choice in the matter, so, technically, it is a tax, but not in the traditional sense.
You pay this money into the program, and you expect it to be returned when you retire. However, we should be paying more, not less, in order to sustain this program.
Most Americans understand that Social Security is going broke. The average worker who retired last year will get back, $72,000 more than he paid into the system. The average married couple who retired last year will get back $300,000 more than they paid into the system.
We might have covered the shortfall if the money collected from Social Security recipients really had been put in a trust fund earning interest or properly invested, but that didn’t happen. Congresses robbed that trust fund to cover their penchant for overspending. All we have left in the so-called trust fund is a bunch of worthless IOUs.
In a few short years, Social Security will be taking in a lot less than it will be paying out. Therefore, allowing working Americans to pay less, even in the short term, is not helping to sustain this system.
Another payroll-tax holiday may be a small help to those people who have jobs, but it does very little to help those who need jobs.
The whole idea of a short-term stimulus is wrongheaded. Historically, short-term stimulus measures never turn out very well.
The economists who try to tell us that the payroll-tax holiday prevented a worse recession are straining at gnats trying to prove a negative. Furthermore, their calculations are based on the idea that every worker went out and spent every penny. Many of those workers wisely used their extra cash to pay down credit card debt.
The average worker received about $1,000 extra in their paychecks over the course of a year. Hardly a windfall. That’s roughly $19 per week. It’s enough to buy the family a meal at McDonald’s, nothing more. While McDonald’s may be hiring – and that’s a good thing – this does not produce the kind of jobs that are needed in the long term.
This temporary stimulus produced little bang for the buck, and those bucks that were spent on the payroll-tax holiday worsened the Social Security shortfall and added to our behemoth national debt.
Is Granny more secure? Is the country more secure? Are your children more secure?
Presently, the government has to borrow 40 cents on every dollar it spends, and the majority of those dollars are borrowed from the Communist Chinese, who are not our friends.
What the economy needs – what businesses need – is economic certainty, not a new tax on the job creators. The last thing we need is more borrowing because the borrower will become a servant to the lender.
Obama and the Democrats are offering a bribe for your vote for a mere $1,000 to $1,500. Unfortunately, this has Republican leaders shaking in their boots. The end result is likely to be more debt – making your future, your children’s future and Granny’s future less secure.