What is it about Republicans like Rep. Todd Akin (R-2)? Don’t they think any one is paying attention to what they say and do? According to PoliticMo, Akin not only rejected the President’s call to extend the payroll tax cut, but called it “insane.” Akin, who is on the record for opposing Social Security, seems to have nevertheless decided to resort to the GOP excuse du jour for raising middle class taxes and cried himself some primo crocodile tears about the supposed debilitating effect on Social Security posed by the tax cut extension:
We’ve made promises to people and they’re depending on this money coming in, and what is [President Obama] doing on a system that is already teetering? Well, he is going into the source of revenue – comes from the employers and employees,” […] “I think it is irresponsible.
Akin is, of course, fully aware that payroll tax cut extension now being debated would be paid for – the only bone of contention on that topic has been whether it should be paid for by a small surtax on millionaires, as Democrats propose, or by other means, such as the GOP proposal to cut federal workers’ pay. Further, as the New York Times‘ Andrew Rosenthal points out:
… even if the tax cut were not paid for – and the one currently in effect was not – it would still not affect Social Security. Federal law requires the treasury to reimburse any shortfall in the account used to pay retirement benefits . So while an unpaid-for payroll tax cut would raise the general deficit and lead to more borrowing, just like any other tax cut, it would not change Social Security benefits or damage the program’s future.
It’s telling when a politician has to depend on the ignorance of his constituents to justify his positions.
But that’s not the worst of it. Just two years ago, GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas proposed eliminating the payroll tax for a two month period. And guess which House member and current Missouri Senatorial candidate cosponsored the legislation? If you guessed Todd Akin you’d be dead on right.
As Sam Stein of the Huffington Post reports:
The political postures of Republican lawmakers have also changed. Today’s House GOP argues that a two-month holiday is a hard-to-implement Democratic ploy to put them in a compromising political position. The 2009 class saw actual economic benefits to keeping the payroll tax rates low — or, for a two-month time period, to eliminating them in their entirety.
“As you probably know, last month I proposed a two-month federal tax holiday that would serve as an alternative to the remainder of the bailout and more effectively stimulate our economy,” Gohmert said on January 6, 2009. “My bill would put the money back in the hands of the taxpayers who earned it by temporarily suspending individual income and FICA taxes for 2 months – meaning no taxes would be paid on those two months’ income.”
“Today I’ve reintroduced my two month tax holiday bill in the new Congress and updated the proposal to go into effect the first whole month following the bill’s passage,” Gohmert continued. “Therefore, as soon as this Congress’ Leadership allows a vote on the bill and it is signed into law, you will be able to hang on to more of your money, and we’ll see the American economy stimulated while keeping our strong democratic, free-market principles intact.”
So let’s see how many reversals is that. In 2009 Akin not only supported but cosponsored legislation to eliminate the payroll tax cut and seems to have believed that it would have a stimulative effect. He now denounces anything that sounds like stimulus. That’s two reversals. In 2009 he had no fear about harming Social Security with such a tax cut, although it gives him the tremors in 2011 – that’s three flip-flops. Now, if he adheres to the House’s new line that extending the payroll tax cut for only two months – as opposed to a full year – would create “uncertainty” for the “job-creators” (i.e. wealthy), or that it’s a cop-out by Democrats who just want to go on vacation, as the NRCC now desperately argues, that will be four unexplained about-faces from the very versatile Rep. Akin. And all of them to perpetrate what DCCC Chair Steve Israel has called “a middle class mugging of $1,000 from 160 million middle income Americans.”
* Next to last sentence edited for clarity: the phrase “for only two months – as opposed to a full year” was added.