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Read my lips…

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The only national political convention that I have attended was the 1988 Republican gathering in New Orleans. Here is a paragraph from Bush 41’s acceptance speech at that convention that is beginning to haunt Bush 43:

“I’m the one who will not raise taxes. My opponent says he’ll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that’s one resort he’ll be checking into. My opponent won’t rule out raising taxes. But I will. And The Congress will push me to raise taxes and I’ll say no. And they’ll push, and I’ll say no, and they’ll push again, and all I can say to them is ‘Read my lips: No new taxes.'”

Bush 43, answering a question about Social Security reform recently, said:

“We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem.”

Since his State of the Union address, “read my lips,” or some variant of it, has been used in a lot of blogs and columns. In a recent Slate magazine article, titled “Read his lips,” Timothy Noah analyzed the President’s options on payroll taxes:

“There are two ways to raise the payroll tax. You can raise the tax rate, or you can expand the pool of money that gets taxed. Bush probably tells himself that he’s keeping his promise not to raise payroll taxes because he still refuses to consider increasing the payroll tax rate above its present level of 12.4 percent. But the Bush White House is clearly sending out signals that it is willing to expand the pool of payroll-taxable income by raising the current cap above $90,000. If that happens, people will pay more money in payroll taxes. I don’t see how you avoid calling that a payroll-tax increase.”

He seems to assume that everybody makes over $90k a year. In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Jackie Calmes reinforces Noah’s point:

“Mr. Bush has ruled out raising payroll taxes. But many Republicans in Congress say that while Mr. Bush is dead-set against raising the 12.4% payroll-tax rate, the administration has left the door open to raising the cap on the amount of wages taxed, now set at $90,000. Repealing the cap altogether?as with Medicare’s smaller payroll tax?would close Social Security’s projected 75-year funding gap.”

Speaking of Social Security, I am glad I am over 55; the rest of you will see some change in SS benefits, and I doubt that it will be for the better. Let us know what you think.

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About John Vinturella

Retired businessman and professor.
  • Eric Olsen

    thanks V, part of why I don’t feel particularly engaged by the social security issue is that I have never thought of it as an important part of my later-life finances and having been laregly self-employed ofr the last 20 years haven’t put all that much into it anyway. When I quit TRW in 1983, even though I was only 25 I pretty well figured at that time that I was on my own from there on out.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    >>But the Bush White House is clearly sending out signals that it is willing to expand the pool of payroll-taxable income by raising the current cap above $90,000. If that happens, people will pay more money in payroll taxes. I don’t see how you avoid calling that a payroll-tax increase.<<

    Well, it’s not an increase in the rate, even if it does raise more taxes using the current rate, and it’s an easy way to take care of the need to fund the conversion. Plus it soaks the ‘rich’ which will make the left happy. Bush’s plan will theoretically save some money off the ultimate cost we’re going to have to pay to fix the whole system, and that money has to come from somewhere. And frankly, if you’re going to have a payroll tax it doesn’t make sense to exempt high salaries from it.

    Dave

  • Nick Jones

    “My opponent says he’ll raise them as a last resort, or a third resort. But when a politician talks like that, you know that’s one resort he’ll be checking into.”

    I like that; it’s actually rather clever. Who was the speechwriter on this?