Sunday, December 11, 2011

GOP TO OBAMA "It's our way or the highway!"

Recently, in a weekly Republican radio address, House Speaker John Boener stated, "There's no time for it's-my-way-or-the-highway theatrics," regarding Obama's refusal to include approval for the Keystone XL pipeline in the payroll tax extension bill.  Mr. Boener, I could not agree with you more.  Only I wish you and your party would follow your own advice.

In typical GOP fashion, John "Tear Drop" Boener and the rest of the Republican Kindergarten Class of 2011, are refusing to extend a common sense bill in order to push through their corporate-friendly agenda. 

So what exactly is the payroll tax?  Actually, there are two types of payroll taxes, only one of which is at issue here.  The first kind is the tax employers are required to withhold from income.  Many people call this tax the "Pay-As-You-Go" tax.  However, the tax causing the GOP to take their Nerf football  during the game and go home is the Social Security/Medicare Payroll Tax.

The Social Security Tax is a flat 6.2% fee and the Medicare tax is a flat 1.45% fee that applies equally to employers and employees.  In 2011, the Social Security Tax applies to income of up to $106,800.  The Medicare Tax applies to all income.  This year, Congress reduced the Social Security Payroll tax to 4.2% for employees only.  The Medicare Payroll tax remained the same.

Seems easy enough right?  Nope, this is the United States First Graders of Congress, with the GOP acting as Debo (Or Biff if you will), the class bully.  You see, if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax, the Social Security tax rate will balloon to 6.2% and add an extra $1,000 in taxes to a family making just $50,000.  In addition, in 2012 the 6.2% will apply to even more income - up to $110,000.  It's clear that neither party, especially the "tax fighting" white knight Republicans, wants taxes to go up for the middle class in this economy.  Still the same, Republicans have channeled Nancy Reagan and have just said no to the Democrat's version of the payroll tax extension.

Please believe, the payroll tax has legitimate, debatable issues in support and against extending the tax break.  The problem is, the "Party of No" (read GOP) refuses to provide legitimate reasons or make common sense arguments against extending the tax reduction to the middle class.  But first let me explain the bill as the Democrats have offered.

Basically, President Obama and the Democrats want to not only extend the payroll tax but also they want to reduce the rate to 3.1% for employees and 3.1% for employers up to the first 5 million of payroll income.  The Democrats argue that the tax break would benefit over 160 million people and that a family making $70,000 per year would save $2,170.  Of course, increased taxes on those with income of 1 million dollars and more would have to finance this package.   Oh yeah, AND NO DAMN KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE APPROVAL!!! Democrats presented this package to the American people like it was Freestyle Friday and then dropped the mic on the floor, saying "what what," as they walked away.

Republicans could have still represented and argued that Americans, albeit the wealthy, should't have to shoulder a 187 billion dollar tax break.  They could have changed the momentum if they challenged Dems by stating that tax payers would be essentially borrowing money to pay for another tax extension.  The GOP could have argued that if the Democrats really wanted to help the middle class, they should phase out the payroll tax break to those with income over $80,000 verses the much higher $110,000.

The GOP could have had hands waving to the rhythm of their beat if they had argued for a second "Making Work Pay" tax break.  That tax break, which was part of the 2009 stimulus package, gave $400 to singles and $800 to couples but was phased out for singles making $75,000 and for couples making $150,000.  They could have made the argument that a similar tax break would truly help the middle class.  But did the GOP make these common sense arguments?  Nooooooo, instead they offered their own payroll tax extension to a chorus of boos.  Below is a snapshot of what they offered the American People:
  • Keep the employee payroll tax at 4.2%
  • Approve the Keystone XL pipeline - a project that would carry oil from Canada to Texas
  • Freeze federal pay
  • Charge higher Medicare fees for seniors with higher income
  • Prevent welfare recipients from accessing those funds at strip clubs - WTF???? Like a player can't use the ATM across the street from Magic City
  • Reduce unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 59 weeks
  • Require those receiving unemployment benefits to obtain a high school diploma
The main issue stalling the payroll tax extension is the addition of the Keystone XL pipeline.  The Republicans argue that this project would create jobs. Uh ok?  But what the hell does it have to do with Social Security or Medicare taxes?  It doesn't!!  This is just the GOP's way of turning down the volume on the Democrats' mic so no one can hear them.  This is a prime example of the kiddie games Republicans have been playing with tax payers as a way to push through their Corporate/Tea Party agenda.

Personally, I am sick and tired of these Republican tactics.  To boot, they think they are hurting Obama and the Democratic Senate.  NEWS FLASH GOTParty - you are hurting the American People.  More importantly, you are playing with MY money!  The Democrats have offered a common sense tax break package and once again Republicans have proven that they really don't care about reducing taxes for everyone; they only care about reducing the taxes of those with large bank accounts.  Oh yeah, and their corporate concubines.

Republicans have been playing games since Obama took office in January 2009.  They have made it clear that they are going to prevent progress in order to keep slots available for a possible Republican Presidency in 2013.  For example, they have stalled the confirmations of numerous Court of Appeals judges and recently they blocked the nomination of Richard Coudray, Obama's pick for head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

So, Republicans, your policies make it clear that it's your way or the highway. Let's hope that after November 2012, you are all traveling on I-395.  If you're nice, maybe Obama will send you Purple Section tickets to his next inauguration.


1.  Do you think the payroll tax should be extended or not?
2.  How should the government fund the payroll tax if it is extended?
3.  Do you think Republicans should add approval of the Keystone XL pipeline as part of the payroll extension bill?
4.  What do you think of the GOP's strategy of saying No to everything Democrat?
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