The bipartisan agreement on the payroll tax break is not yet final, though officials in both parties on Capitol Hill are optimistic about the deal coming together. Some high-profile opponents, however, remain unconvinced.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Wednesday that he has "a problem" with the tentative agreement to extend the payroll tax cut without paying for it.Ryan warned that the move could erode the Social Security Trust Fund, which is funded by the payroll tax."Members on our side of the aisle are divided on this question. I personally have a problem with what happens with the Social Security trust fund...."
There are main problems with this. The first is that Paul Ryan took the opposite position when the economy faced a mild downturn in 2001. The congressman has not yet explained the contradiction.
The second and more serious problem is the notion that Ryan is somehow concerned about the integrity of Social Security. Remember Ryan's "Roadmap" budget plan? It had quite a few interesting ideas related to Social Security.
The Ryan plan proposes large cuts in Social Security benefits -- roughly 16 percent for the average new retiree in 2050 and 28 percent in 2080 from price indexing alone -- and initially diverts most of these savings to help fund private accounts rather than to restore Social Security solvency.
What's more, as recently as September, Ryan also endorsed the idea that the Social Security system is a "Ponzi scheme."
It gets back to a topic we discussed yesterday: those who oppose Social Security shouldn't pretend to be its champions. If Paul Ryan opposes the middle-class tax cut, he should say so, and not behind a transparent fig leaf.