Congressional Republicans used to be enthusiastic supporters of the payroll tax break. But as we've seen with an individual health care mandate, cap-and-trade plans, the DREAM Act, and a host of other issues, GOP support evaporated once Democrats said they agreed with the idea.
"We need to stop bowing to political pressure and do the right thing and make sure we don't bankrupt Social Security even further," Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin told POLITICO. [...]Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is leading efforts to win a Senate GOP majority in November, has criticized the payroll tax break, saying it harms the Social Security trust fund with little economic boost to show for it. [...]Added Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.): "This weakens Social Security ... and it is a dangerous trend."
Rush Limbaugh and the House Republican leadership have gotten in on the same game, attacking the proposed cut out of alleged concern for Social Security.
It's quite a transition, isn't it? Just a few months ago, all kinds of leading GOP voices were comfortable condemning Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme." Now, however, Republicans say they are prepared to stick the middle class with a tax hike in an election year because of their deep and abiding love for this "Ponzi scheme."
For the record, even if we put the conservatives' dubious sincerity aside, these critics are wrong on the substance. If the payroll break is extended, Social Security wouldn't be "bankrupted" or "weakened." In fact, the system wouldn't lose so much as a dime. Either these Republicans don't understand the policy debate, or they do, and they're hoping the public won't know the difference.
Either way, some of Washington's biggest foes of Social Security are doing their very best to pretend they're Social Security's biggest champions. It's a shameless, inane con.