That argument, which has been adopted by members of both parties and perpetuated by news outlets like NPR, has one problem: it’s not true. Each of the plans under consideration is fully paid for, replacing revenue the Social Security Trust Fund would have lost from lower payroll tax receipts with money made up from either alternative revenue sources or spending cuts. The earlier payroll tax holiday, set to expire this month, was also fully-funded, and the program has thus far “been held harmless” from the holiday, as Reuters noted today.
And while the opposition from Republicans may seem like an impassioned defense of a vital and popular program, a look at their history with the program shows it is not. DeMint has supported privatizing the program while Paul is a proponent of means testing — “solutions” that are both bad policy and unnecessary. Despite Paul’s $6 trillion assertion, Social Security actually has a $2.6 trillion surplus and is solvent through at least 2037.
And if Republicans truly want to use the payroll tax to shore up its long-term viability, there is an easy way to do that. The payroll tax is currently collected only on the first $106,800 in income; raising or eliminating that cap would make the program fully solvent for the next 75 years.
Ahh, but the Republicans aren't the only ones pushing this lie. There are plenty of folks on the Professional Left that have screamed that the payroll tax cut was Obama selling out Social Security when it was implemented last year. Now they are silent, and the President has the Republicans over a huge barrel. It's like he knew what he was doing all along.
Funny how that works.