Chicago Tribune editorial: "Stop cheating Social Security with payroll tax cut - Extending the cut would shortchange the system - and deepen our enormous debt."
In their rush to head home for the holidays, members of neither party want to discuss how continuing this year's cut in the payroll tax and extending long-term jobless pay would add to our already enormous national debt. Here's why: The payroll taxes that otherwise would be paid into Social Security only would be recouped years later, and that's under the most optimistic scenarios. Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk told the Tribune editorial board Wednesday that both parties' proposals would add to U.S. borrowing — and move up the date when the most recent federal debt limit is exceeded.The one-year extension will be "paid" with 10-year revenue projections that 1.) may not materialize and 2.) future Congresses are not constrained to fund.
Kirk's main concern: Social Security already is imperiled — unable to properly benefit future generations unless it is reformed. Maybe a one-year cut in the payroll tax for 2011 made some sense. But continuing to cheat the program of the routine revenues on which it is structured inevitably endangers its ability to meet its obligations. And filling any shortfall in these Social Security revenues by borrowing still more billions is beyond foolhardy. It's also the same sort of we'll-gladly-pay-later-for-entitlement-spending-today that has put many nations of Europe in severe debt crises.
Extra - NY Times: "Disagreement over payroll tax cut's impact on Social Security."