The payroll tax cut, and why my feelings on it are somewhat less mixed than they were before.

Via Jazz Shaw, and as you’re probably already aware, the Senate rejected two measures on the 2-point payroll tax cut on Thursday:

The Senate late Thursday rejected competing partisan visions for extending a temporary tax break that benefits virtually every American worker, clearing the way for more serious negotiations over how to cover the cost of the tax cut.

…President Obama and lawmakers have been sparring over the tax break, which reduced the payroll tax rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent this year and is set to expire Dec. 31.

Click here and here for my previous musings on the subject. To sum up: I love it because it puts more money in my pocket and, hell, maybe it’ll bring us closer to the day when we’re forced to do something about entitlement reform.

I hate it because, huh? Wasn’t Social Security supposed to be in trouble?

And, plus, why does every tax cut always have to have an expiration date? Why don’t taxes in general have expiration dates?

And aren’t there a lot of far better ways to cut taxes anyway? Yep, there are. But, on the payroll tax cut, I fall solidly on the side of yes. Because Milton Friedman once wrote:

“I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.”

Word. Just to be lazy about this, here’s an excerpt from a column I wrote six years ago:

Two years ago, when Tom and I were on the (Sauk County, WI) Finance Committee, we (the committee) decided to eliminate funding for one position in the District Attorney’s office — an executive assistant, if I recall correctly.

Yes, the DA’s office said that position was essential. Every department said the same thing about every position they had. We had a budget to balance.

That was only one of many specific decisions we made over the course of three days. Once we’d finished, I asked this question: which position is more important, the executive assistant in the DA’s office (which we’d cut), or the same position in the UW-Extension office (which we’d left alone)?

My point was: we’d established a level of spending, and now I felt we should take some time to better prioritize that spending.

The committee’s decision: keep both positions. Raise taxes to pay for it.

It’s not that I want an end to all taxes (I just want an expiration date so Congress has to renew them every year or two). And it’s not that I can’t prioritize this spending over that spending; these taxes over those taxes.

It is that, sometimes, trying to prioritize seems to play right into the Spend More and Tax More hands. It’s like starting a negotiation by telling the other side you already agree with half of what they want.

It seems like, us fiscal conservatives, we have to be absolute. Cut taxes, cut spending, any time, anywhere, in any way possible, because this chance might be the only chance we get.

(Posted by The TrogloPundit)

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