The last time I wrote an article asking for the President to extend the payroll tax cuts I didn’t use all caps in my title. So here’s try #2. I’m also angrier this time.

Here’s the President today talking about a potential deal on the Fiscal Cliff:

Here are the two lines that stuck out (and infuriated me):

Every American’s paycheck will get considerably smaller.


The housing market is recovering, but that could be impacted if folks are seeing smaller paychecks.

Guess what is immediately going to hit the middle class the hardest?

The expiration  of the payroll tax cut.

I’ve supported the President against other liberals in his desire to compromise, but he never mentions the payroll tax cut. The Bush Tax Cuts don’t have an effect for months – until tax filing season. The sequester happens slowly over time. We won’t hit the debt ceiling for another month. But the end of the payroll tax cut is going to hit middle class families right away. That’s what’s going to hurt their paychecks.

The President is saying that he wants to avoid decreasing every American’s paycheck. He’s demanding just a small deal and at worst, just an extension of the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 and an extension of unemployment benefits. That’s what Obama is saying Congress needs to do to prevent every American’s paycheck from taking a hit.

He’s wrong. That still leaves a big weekly hole in every American’s paycheck as the payroll tax rises from 4.2% to 6.2%.

Matt Yglesias mentioned this in a post today as well. The parts of the fiscal cliff that have the worst immediate consequences aren’t even being mentioned.

It’s a major political failure. But it’s also a media failure? Hello MSM, where have you been? Do most Americans even know that the payroll tax is going up?

The entire thing is infuriating, but nothing is going to change in the next few days so I might as well get used to it.



  1. Even though the President is trying to explain the effect these changes in law will have and advocate for a program or plan, he has no Constitutional way to force Congress to act on solving these problems. He can’t change the payroll tax situation by Executive Order. Congress alone writes and passes tax laws. 100% of this mess is THEIR fault.

    1. Well, yes. But the President has been the leader of the Democratic side and made all counter-offers in the negotiations. By all accounts, it was mostly John Boehner and Obama negotiating. The President is the one who put offers forward – many of which did not include the extension of the payroll tax cut and when he does, he always drops it quickly. Obama never mentions extending it as a top goal or demands Congress to act on it like he does with extending tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more per year. Congress may be the one to write and vote on laws, but the President controlls the Democratic negotiating table. He owns these negotiations and he has failed here. Thanks for the comment!

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