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How does bloody landing feel after avoiding fiscal cliff?

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POSTED January 6, 2013 7:36 p.m.

So how does avoiding the fiscal cliff feel?

If you’re like 77 percent of us you still got bruised pretty badly.

That’s because Social Security payroll taxes took an increased 2 percent bite out of your earnings.

It’s not really a tax increase, we are told. It isn’t that much, they say. It never stimulated the economy, they add.

While there is little doubt the Social Security system needed the taxes “restored” that were cut two years ago, isn’t it strange how the vast amount of Americans who don’t have a real say at the table were the only ones gored besides those making over $400,000 a year?

The lower income and those relying on government entitlements had their interests protected. The big corporations even got tax breaks that were loaded into the fiscal cliff bill. Everyone else got it stuck to them.

But why are we whining? It isn’t that much. If you’re making $30,000 a year and taking home $24,000 after taxes it’s “only” $600 a year you’re giving up. It “only” reduced your $461 a week take home pay by $11.53 a week. Your kids don’t really need to drink that much milk. Eating Top Ramen instead of meat builds character. You can afford to lose a few pounds so walking instead of buying gas will do you good.

Remember, it didn’t stimulate the economy. True. Most people I know used the Social Security tax cut to counter wage cuts and reduced hours. It kept them treading water.

Isn’t it funny how defenders of saddling taxpayers for the next five generations with $831 billion in American Recovery Act debt defend it by saying it stimulated the economy by saving jobs? But the Social Security tax cut never stimulated the economy because it simply helped countless families hold on.

Most folks beyond the Beltway and who don’t toil on Wall Street have been taking it on the chin since the Great Recession started.

That’s verified by government surveys that show income for the working stiffs in the private sector as well as small businesses have retreated. It’s even true for cities, counties and state governments.

Is there any major sector that hasn’t reduced spending besides the super rich? Could it be the federal government?

Isn’t it convenient how federal employees didn’t have their take home pay slashed in order to shore up their retirement fund so it doesn’t go bankrupt or have to rely on federal bailouts down the road?

In fact, federal employees never took the same wage and hourly hits most everyone else did. Many got annual pay raises consistently since 2006 when everything started to tank.

Apologists defend federal pay generosity since 2006 since it either helped counter increases in the cost of living, it was needed it to retain good workers, or it was to reward hard work. Gee, that’s the same reasons everyone else gives pay raises when they can afford to do so.

Yes, the fiscal cliff could have been progressively worse for the 77 percent of American households that got “saved” with the Social Security tax hike.

And just like good lemmings we still did our part and went over the edge never questioning how we took proportionally a bigger hit than anyone else did because we bought into the fiscal cliff hype.

Heck, they’ve got lemmings out here in California buying into the angst of other states that don’t want to lose civilian military jobs. It’s amazing how soon we forget who took by far the largest portion of initial hits back in the 1980s and 1990s when almost three out of every five civilian military job cuts were from within California.

But, hey, be happy.

We avoided the fiscal cliff.



This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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