President Trump has signed an Executive Order deferring the collection of the 6.2 percent social security employee payroll tax through the end of the year. While this will provide much needed liquidity for American families, Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Joe Biden have criticized this proposal as doing little to help Americans and undermining social security.
This is a sharp reversal from a decade ago when Pelosi and Biden vocally supported payroll tax cuts pushed by the Obama administration.
Throughout this period, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly highlighted payroll tax cuts as way to give middle class families more money and help grow the economy.
For instance, in a blog post, the Obama administration highlighted that payroll tax cuts would give the typical family $40 per two-week pay cycle. As the document noted:
“$40 is real money for working families, as people all over the country told us. That money buys things like school lunches, the gas needed to get to work or visit ailing relatives, and co-pays for doctor visits and essential prescription medicines.”
It is important to note that Trump’s payroll tax deferral applies to the entire 6.2 percent tax while Obama’s payroll tax cut reduced the tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent for two years. As a result, the same working family highlighted by Obama would be seeing three times the benefit under Trump, or roughly $130 per pay cycle.
Democrats also repeatedly highlighted how a payroll tax cut will help workers. For instance, in a speech given on December 17, 2010, President Obama noted that the payroll tax cut would reduce taxes for 155 million workers:
“Over the course of 2011, 155 million workers will receive tax relief from the new payroll tax cut included in this bill -– about $1,000 for the average family. This is real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives.”
Similarly, in a speech given on May 22, 2012, Biden highlighted the administration’s efforts to cut the payroll tax, noting that it would reduce taxes for 98 percent of Americans:
“In December of 2010 we passed the payroll tax that gave each and every American an average of $1,000 tax cut. One thousand dollars less was taken out of their pay in payroll taxes. We repassed that not long ago, allowing another $1,500 to go into people's pockets instead of going into taxes. Ninety-eight percent of the American people -- they get a pay stub. They pay payroll taxes. So when you cut taxes for people with a -- with a payroll tax, 98 percent of the American people are getting a tax cut.”
Joe Biden’s biography on the Obama White House website even specifically highlighted his effort to cut payroll taxes for American workers:
“Fought for payroll tax cuts during the economic recovery -- ensuring a tax cut for every single worker in America.”
Speaker Pelosi also vocally supported payroll tax cuts. For instance, On December 13, 2011, Speaker Pelosi said that a payroll tax cut will give more money to Americans and help create more jobs:
“This is about a thriving middle class. It's about a payroll tax cut that does what it sets out to do, puts $1,500 in the pockets of Americas families who need it, who spend it and in doing so inject, inject demand--demand, demand--into our economy which further creates jobs.”
Pelosi even supported extending the payroll tax cut without offsetting lost revenue, as her February 13, 2012 press release noted:
“Democrats have always demanded that we extend the payroll tax cut for 160 million Americans without paying for it.”
In addition, following a jobs report released on December 2, 2011, Pelosi called for expanding the payroll tax cut:
“Today's jobs report sends a clear message: we've made some progress but we have work to do. The American people's top priority remains job creation. Democrats want to put more money in the pockets of all Americans and strengthen small businesses by expanding the payroll tax cut.”
President Trump has called on Congress to make the tax deferral a permanent tax cut. Given their past support for payroll tax cuts, Biden and Pelosi should join Trump in calling for permanent payroll tax relief.