Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.


Learn more about HD Media

It is sad and rare an individual’s passing would plunge the nation into a broil of partisanship. Yet that is the confrontation presented by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., within an hour of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Anxious for partisan advantage, McConnell declared President Trump’s nominee would receive a confirmation vote with an election less than 50 days away, while McConnell denied the same to President Obama in 2016, with nearly a year to go before the election. Yet my question is whether this confirmation will become the election’s defining issue, taking our minds off the pandemic and other important, yet lesser known, concerns. Like what? Like Trump’s senseless payroll tax shell game. Here are details.

You may have received a 6.2% pay raise the first of September courtesy of Donald Trump. However, as with most things Donald, it’s not good. In fact, you could get screwed while he possibly benefits.

Through executive order, Trump allowed, but did not require employers to defer, deducting the employee’s portion of Social Security taxes for a four-month period. By removing the deduction, it meant a take-home pay increase. Federal employees and members of the military were not able to opt out of the plan

But, and this is a big but, it doesn’t eliminate the tax — it is a deferral. Employees must pay it back beginning Jan. 1, which is the date when the original 6.2% tax is reimposed. So, come Jan. 1, your pay goes down for four months by 12.4%.

It’s like not having to pay the house mortgage for four months and then having to double up on payments the next four.

The net effect of the deferral on someone making $15 an hour for 40 hours/week is $37.20 more now. But that’s a $74.40 reduction during the payback period.

Why? My guess is Donald figures you’ll spend the extra, give the economy a spurt, and up-play his reelection chances.

Will it boost the economy? Maybe some this year but will depress it just as much next.

What’s in it for you? Nothing. It’s like saving money by buying things on sale you don’t need.

Don’t worry about it, though, because Donald promised if he is reelected, he’ll have Congress forgive the employee’s four-month 6.2% portion of the Social Security tax, so you’ll never have to pay it back.

It’s a sophisticated form of using your money to buy your vote. And that’s how some billionaires get to be billionaires.

What’s the chance the tax will be removed? Poor. RealClear Politics rates Biden ahead, likely, or leaning in his favor in states with 242 electoral votes, and 171 electoral votes as toss-ups. It takes 270 electoral votes to win. So, Trump promised he’d work on it if he were reelected. If he’s not reelected, then it is up to us to pay it back.

Even if he is reelected, there’s no guarantee that the House and Senate would go along, especially if one or both were controlled by Democrats. It’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen but www.electionprojection.com sees Democrats picking up seats in the House, leaving a Democrat majority. Politico says Republicans no longer have a significant edge to maintain control of the Senate. So, both could end up with Democrat majorities.

That’s not the only problem.

The money deferred funds your Social Security. The Congressional Budget Office says that under current law, the trust fund will run dry in 2031 and that incoming taxes will be the only source of benefits, presumably meaning benefit cuts.

That, of course, is if Congress does nothing, which they’re pretty good at.

Therefore, is it a good deal for you? No. Is it a good deal for Social Security? No. Is it a good deal for the economy? No. Is it a good deal for Donald Trump’s reelection campaign? Not if enough people figure it out.

Expect him to focus as much attention as he can on the replacement of the late Justice Ginsburg.

Tom Crouser is a business consultant writing from his home place at Mink Shoals. Reach him at tom@crouser.com and follow his tweets on Twitter @TomCrouser. Also connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.