When many Americans received their first paycheck of 2013, they wondered why their paychecks were smaller. Obama supporters in particular were baffled, wondering why they were seeing less pay when they had just voted for a President who promised they would never see a tax increase, that after all was reserved for "rich" people. The first Friday in January, Google was flooded with the question, "Why is my paycheck smaller?" Workers took to Twitter and asked the same question.
Now, even the New York Times is realizing who the the newest payroll taxes hurt the most: poor people.
Jack Andrews and his wife no longer enjoy what they call date night, their once-a-month outing to the movies and a steak dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse in Augusta, Ga. In Harlem, Eddie Phillips’s life insurance payment will have to wait a few more weeks. And Jessica Price is buying cheaper food near her home in Orlando, Fla., even though she worries it may not be as healthy.
Like millions of other Americans, they are feeling the bite from the sharp increase in payroll taxes that took effect at the beginning of January. There are growing signs that the broader economy is suffering, too.
Chain-store sales have weakened over the course of the month. And two surveys released last week suggested that consumer confidence was eroding, especially among lower-income Americans.
While these data points are preliminary — more detailed statistics on retail sales and other trends will not be available until later this month — at street level, the pain from the expiration of a two-percentage-point break in Social Security taxes in 2011 and 2012 is plain to see.
“You got to stretch what you got,” said Mr. Phillips, 51, a front-desk clerk and maintenance man for a nonprofit housing group who earned $22,000 last year. “That little $20 or $30 affects you, especially if you’re just making enough money to stay above water.” So he has taken to juggling bills, skipping a payment on one this month and another next month.
“I’m playing catch-up each month,” he said. “You go to the supermarket and you can’t spend what you used to.”
Now, liberals would argue that those payroll taxes will be put to good use for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid services these people will be able to use down the road but the truth is, that money will be gone and bankrupt so long as Washington refuses to even discuss a serious plan about how to reform our entitlement programs.
Meanwhile, a new Fox News poll shows the majority of Americans believe the country is weaker, not stronger, since Obama took office.
President Barack Obama will be speaking to a gloomy electorate when he delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Twice as many voters believe the country is weaker, rather than stronger, since Obama took office. In addition, by a 52-40 percent margin voters think the worst is yet to come on the economy. And more than eight in 10 disagree with the president’s notion that the government doesn’t have a spending problem.
These are some of the findings from the latest Fox News poll released Thursday.
During recent budget negotiations, Obama reportedly said he doesn’t believe the government has a spending problem. Most voters — 83 percent — disagree. That includes most Republicans (97 percent), independents (87 percent) and Democrats (69 percent).
In addition, out of 13 issues tested, more voters are “extremely” concerned about government spending than any other issue. Moreover, nearly all voters are either extremely (32 percent) or very concerned (52 percent) about spending.
Nearly half of voters — 48 percent — think the country is weaker and less powerful today than it was five years ago. That’s twice as many as the 24 percent who see the country as stronger and more powerful. Another 27 percent think it’s unchanged.