Back in June, Wisconsin Congressman (and noted Randian Philospher), Paul Ryan, referred to the President’s middle class targeted payroll tax cut as “sugar high economics.” Ryan’s argument being that such a tax cut only allows for small, short-term benefits when an overhaul to the tax code is what’s necessary to create sustainable growth. He also said today on MSNBC while being interviewed by Andrea Mitchell, that he was concerned about the effect that the temporary tax cut would have on Social Security.
First, I would say that I don’t entirely disagree with Ryan here. I do think that a simplification of the tax code could be beneficial to all Americans. Unfortunately, Ryan sees a revamp of the tax code as an opportunity to benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle and lower-income earners. More specifically, Ryan’s plan would seek to lower the tax rate for corporations and the highest income earners from 35% to 25%, making deep cuts in Health Care Reform and Medicaid, while turning Medicare into a voucher program and privatizing Social Security. You know, programs that 99% of us actually need. Perhaps the silliest part of the plan is that the budget would require multiple increases in the debt ceiling, and actually increase the federal deficit, that this supposed deficit hawk is so out to reduce. In other words, it doesn’t even make sense on his terms.
Secondly, I find it fascinating that the man from the party that never met a tax cut they didn’t like, would be so willing to disparage one that impacts a greater number of people and at a lower level of income. Hell, most of these people dragging their heels (or is it knuckles?) have actually signed the infamous Grover Norquist pledge which forbids them from doing so. Funny then, that neither Grover or any of these republicans are so quick to jump on a tax break that will benefit the middle class unless it’s paid for, unlike the Bush Tax Cuts which had no offsets and has proven to be one of the most foolish, deficit busting fiscal maneuvers ever made. Of course, those cuts predominantly favored the rich–excuse me, “job creators” (and where are all those jobs anyway?).
Lastly, I find his “sugar high” comment to patently offensive and out of touch with the challenges facing the majority of Americans today. Sure, any temporary tax cut will not have a long-term benefit to the economy. Hell, it’s not designed to! What it is expected to do is to help those that are under the boot heel of this GOP created economy by making it a little more possible for them to buy the necessities of life. Stuff like food, clothing, and shelter. Things those at the top income level never have to worry about although they are catered to as if a second home or a larger boat is as necessary as everyone else’s most basic of needs.
Let me give you a real world example of how 1500 bucks might make a major difference in the lives of a middle class family: Every 3 weeks, my wife and I purchase groceries. On average, we spend about $200 per visit. We buy cleaning supplies and hygiene items to keep our home and bodies healthy and safe, and of course we buy food and beverages to keep ourselves upright and mobile. With our average cost and rate of visit to the grocery store, $1500 would pay for 7 1/2 excursions, which equals 21 1/2 weeks of the year. Or, nearly half a year’s worth of groceries.
Congressman Ryan, that ain’t no “sugar high,” that’s a sustenance high.