Sen. Rick Santorum (Maniac-VA), who doesn't even have a residence in the state which he "represents," tried to pull a fast one over The Grand Poobah of the Washington press corps Tim Russert yesterday on Meet the Press with regard to Social Security. Santorum (which, as you know, is also the name for a particular type of sexual waste product
), sounded positively diplomatic, saying "everything is on the table" 5 times, including raising these shocking, antithetical-to-Republican-ideology possibilities:
1-Adding on private investment accounts to the existing Social Security structure:
2-Admitting that private accounts alone will not solve the Social Security problem (he didn't even bother to use the word crisis):
3-Reduction in benefits through pushing back the retirement age:
4-Raising payroll taxes by raising the caps on which wages can be taxed:
If I didn't know any better, I'd put Santorum into Josh Marshall's "conscience caucus"
. Problem is, I do know better. Santorum was particularly dishonest when talking about raising caps on the amount of income which is subject to the payroll tax. Here's what he said:SEN. SANTORUM: There is no question it's a tax increase, and it's a big tax increase. It's a 12.4 percent tax increase on top of people at that level who are already paying 35 percent income tax. And so the combined tax would be about 50 percent. So, I mean, it's a significant tax increase, but it's...
That's ridiculous. Workers only pay half the payroll tax; their businesses pay the other half. So that brings it to 6.2%. In addition, these workers are ALREADY paying the payroll tax on the first $90,000. So a worker who makes $140,000 will pay an extra $3,000 of tax if the cap is raised, approximately. That's a shade over 2%.
It gets bigger depending on how much the cap is raised, or if it's eliminated, but don't pull that fuzzy math crap. Of course, Russert said nothing. He also (amazingly) did not bring up the issue of College Republicans rallying outside a Santorum town hall meeting in Philadelphia by chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, Social Security has got to go." How could you have the man on and not bring that up? Liberal media indeed.
Santorum sounded like a man who got the message from his constituency about what they want out of the Social Security debate. He also sounded like a man running for re-election in 2006, who's seen the early polls showing him losing to Bob Casey Jr., the most popular politician in the state. However, these wishy-washy "everything's on the table" statements don't pass the smell test. As Matthew Yglesias
points out, none of these rhetorical concessions mean a damn thing once they get into the House Conference Committee, where everything Democrats propose (should they be dumb enough to negotiate) will be stripped out faster than you can say "Tom DeLay".
Republicans are losing this fight. This is not the time to throw them a bone. This is a time to let them twist in the wind. I'm talking to you, Joe Lieberman