Crocodile Tears for the Payroll Tax Cut

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 7 2013 1:47 PM

Crocodile Tears for the Payroll Tax Cut

Joseph Curl writes an extremely easy column about a meme that took hold of the right this weekend: Foul-mouthed Obama supporters angry that their payroll taxes went up.

“Really, how am I ever supposed to pay off my student loans if my already small paycheck keeps getting smaller? Help a sister out, Obama,” wrote “Meet Virginia.” “Nancy Thongkham” was much more furious. “F***ing Obama! F*** you! This taking out more taxes s*** better f***ing help me out!! Very upset to see my paycheck less today!”

And so on. "When you’re shooting the breeze in the lunchroom with your grumbling co-workers on the 16th," snarks Curl, "just ask them, 'Who’d you vote for in November?' When they say Mr. Obama, just tell them: 'Well, you got what you voted for. You did know he was going to raise taxes, right?'"

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Well, who were they supposed to vote for? Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama said he'd extend the payroll tax holiday past 2012. None of the House Republicans' "fiscal cliff" offers included an extension in the tax holiday; John Boehner's office confirmed that he didn't want to include it.

Most of the time, when Republicans attack Democrats for raising/wanting to raise taxes, they're contrasting the Democrats for something Republicans would never do. But to criticize Democrats over the restored payroll tax is to slam them for something Republicans wanted. It's beautiful, sometimes, the lack of responsibility that comes with diminished powers.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.