This morning, thousands of Americans took to Twitter to ask #WhyIsMyPaycheckLessThisWeek. It’s now a trending topic.
There’s an actual answer to this question of why paychecks are lighter today: the expiration of the payroll tax holiday that went into effect on January 1, 2013.
Unfortunately, the majority of the tweets in question contain answers culled from the feverish imaginations of the most vitriolic Fox News anchors and radio shock jocks. Illegal immigrants are to blame. Obama voters. Welfare recipients. Women who want birth control. Over 500 (and counting) Twitter users blamed an expensive jacket Michelle Obama wore to meet the queen of England.
The expiration of the payroll tax holiday obviously has nothing to do with any of these things. It’s a result of the horse-trading in Congress, the lack of attention to job-creating policies that help workers pay their bills, and devotion of Republicans and some Democrats to “cutting spending” while protecting the interests of their wealthy and corporate sponsors.
Here’s why your paycheck is less this week:
The payroll tax holiday, which lowered your paycheck deduction to Social Security from 6.2 to 4.2 percent, was passed in 2010. As Matt Yglesias describes, the 2009 Recovery Act contained a similar measure that Republicans didn’t want to extend “mostly because it was too closely identified with Obama.”