Tim Russert Doesn't Understand the Payroll Tax
Interviewing Kerry, he said (talking about raising the cap from $86,000)
MR. RUSSERT: (quoting the Boston Globe) "Another idea Kerry said he would consider is raising the cut-off point after which people no longer pay into the system. Americans pay Social Security taxes only on the first $86,000 they earn in a year."
SEN. KERRY: Yeah.
MR. RUSSERT: 6.2 percent. So if you raise that cap, say from $86,000 to $120,000, a husband and wife making $60,000 each, you’re going to raise their taxes up $2,000.
Huh!? Hello, Tim Russert, the cap is per individual. If they make $60k each, they are not at the current cap, so raising the cap does nothing. How can you not understand this basic fact? I really wish Kerry would have slapped this back in his face, instead he went on and on about means testing. Oh well.
Update: The transcript
is finally available (I edited the quote above to match the transcript exactly).
Kerry Using GOP Tax Distortion Tricks
Kerry is doing Gov. Dean a favor by testing how well he can respond to Rove's distortions. On Meet the Press, Kerry said:
If you're a $40,000 income earner, Howard Dean's going to raise your taxes more than 20 times
Like the GOP, Kerry is distorting some basic facts.
- He is only talking about income taxes
- He is cherry picking families (the same ones as the Treasury Dept, ironically)
- He uses the phrase "20 times" rather than the actual dollar figure (which would not sound as impressive)
Gov. Dean needs to learn how to answer these effectively in the debates, in speeches, in ads, etc. now. The same garbage from Rove will be relentless next year.
Kerry needs to be a little more careful when he does this by the way. You will notice that when more experienced distorters try to cherry pick, they are a little more specific (it's actually 40k + 2 kids that get the big tax break because of the Earned Income Tax credit). If you forget to say "with 2 kids" you open yourself up to the counter attack that this isn't true (with no kids, you only get the benefit of the new tax bracket -- ~$300). Also, he forgot to say "raise your income taxes". Maybe he doesn't understand all of the nuances of the GOP distortions and the importance of these words, which is why he doesn't repeat them faithfully -- it's a big mistake, because the GOP is not technically lying when they say these things, but Kerry might be if he leaves them out.