Over 90% Of Americans Would Be Unaffected: Fixing Social Security

I've been a one-trick hobbit here recently. The only thing that works me up enough to post is this outlandish Social Security debate we're having in this country, thanks to Our Georgy Boy. He wants us to imagine a Social Security "flat broke", the same way we imagined that international terrorism could never pull off an attack on America. The same way we imagined that Saddam helped plan 9/11 and had weapons of mass destruction.

Think about that "busted" Social Security. Think about it hard.

I was just watching Green Acres the other day, and Our Everbeloved Leader reminds me more and more of Mr. Haney. Why the hell would Jeb ever buy anything from that greasy salesman? Because Jeb is a simplehearted knucklehead, that's why.

And that's what Bush is after - the knuckleheads. He's already got the mainstream media clucking around, looking for cracks in the Social Security sky. Get enough knuckleheads in the fold and maybe we can put Reagan on the dime in the same bill that fatally wounds Social Security. Who'd vote against Reagan? Who'd want to run against that headline next election?

The truth is: Social Security is like a car with a slow leak in the tire. We've taken it to the shop and Bush the mechanic is telling us that we need to replace the transmission. "You see," Bush says, wiping his greasy hands on a red rag, "if you drive this car for an infinite number of miles, that transmission's gonna grind itself into tooth fillin's. Think about that transmission snarling around your axle at eighty miles a hour while you got the baby in the car. Let's go 'head and pop you a new one in there, 'kay?"

There's a simple fix to the minor problem in funding Social Security: eliminate the ceiling on payroll taxes. Currently, Social Security taxes are only paid on the first $90,000 you make in a year. Most Americans don't know this, because most Americans don't make $90,000 a year as individuals.

But I started wondering: How many Americans would be affected by eliminating the payroll tax ceiling?

According to these latest figures from the IRS (Excel file), there were 110 million individual tax returns filed in the year 2002.

101 million of these returns had an adjusted gross income of under $100,000.

That means that over 90% of all Americans will see no increase in payroll taxes if we lift the payroll tax ceiling.

Some will ask: "How do you figure that, Bolo? The payroll tax ceiling isn't $100,000; it's lower. And adjusted gross income is after a lot of deductions have been made, so that number's inaccurate."

I understand that. I also know that we should be hauling in the next higher bracket to account for double income returns (married) whose combined income exceeds $90,000, but whose individual incomes would never have hit the ceiling. So I think the number of "over 90%" is fair and accurate.

We can fix the slow leak in Social Security with one simple proposal that will not burden the vast majority of individual Americans with one single cent more in tax. But this common sense solution isn't being discussed by anyone in Washington or on our public airwaves because they'd be seeing an increase in the tax they're currently paying.

If anyone's got a more charitable motive for why this solution is off the public table, I'd be happy to hear it.