Will Payroll Tax Cut ‘Unravel’ Social Security? Robert Gibbs Says ‘Not In Any Way’

Feb 19, 2012 11:44am
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ABC News

Days after Congress’ bitterly-long battle over extending the payroll tax cut concluded in a compromise deal, Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs aimed diffuse criticism from those within his own party that the tax cut deal “could begin unraveling Social Security,” as Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said this week on the Senate Floor.

“I strongly disagree with that characterization,” Gibbs told me in an exclusive interview Sunday on “This Week.” “This does not in any way threaten the livelihood of Social Security.”

While the tax cut strips about $100 billion from federal revenues, the Social Security trust fund is theoretically left untouched as the Treasury will borrow more to compensate for the lagging revenue stream, adding instead to the national debt.

Gibbs said the cut was necessary to continue the economic recovery, which has dragged on longer and deeper than people on both sides of the aisle expected.

If the tax holiday were to have expired, as it was set to do the end of this month, a family earning $50,000 would have seen their taxes increase by about $1,000 over the next year.

“I’m glad that Republicans in Congress accepted the president’s position that we can’t raise taxes on the middle class right now,” Gibbs said.

Gibbs also defended Obama’s 2013 budget, which the president delivered to Congress last week. With $3.7 trillion in spending, the president’s budget would create a fourth year of at least $1 trillion of deficit spending.

“The best thing we can do for our budget deficit right now is to get our economy going even faster than it is right now,” Gibbs said. “Quite frankly, we’ve made some good progress, but it’s going to take some more time to get out of that hole.”

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