One Nebraska United States senator says Congress must make sure the payroll tax cut is extended. Another isn’t so sure.
A two-percent cut in the Social Security tax expires at the end of the month.
Sen. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, is optimistic Congress will extend it.
“It appears that people on both sides of the aisle want this extended. It’s a question of how it’s paid for, so that it doesn’t take money from the Social Security trust fund or the Medicare fund as well,” Nelson has told reporters in a conference call.
That is the problem, according to Sen. Mike Johanns, who dismisses assurances from the Social Security chief actuary that extending the cut won’t harm the Social Security trust fund.
“I almost broke out in peals of laughter when I read that,” Johanns responds.
Actuary Stephen Goss sent a Tuesday letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Budget Director Jack Lew giving his thumbs up.
“We estimate that the enactment of this bill would have a negligible effect on the financial status of the Old Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program in both the near term and the long term. We estimate that the projected level of the OASI and DI Trust Funds would be unaffected by enactment of this provision,” the letter states.
Johanns rejects the actuary’s insistence the trust fund won’t be depleted.
“And, like I said, I just about laughed at him when I read that report,” Johanns says. “It is so incredibly disingenuous.”
Johanns suggests that if Congress wants to put money into consumers’ hands, it simply should hand out checks. Johanns says he doesn’t necessarily favor that, but says it is a method that has been used in the past to help stimulate the economy.