Fuzzy Math: Paying for the Payroll Tax Cut

In a just published piece, AEI economist and tax expert Alan Viard warns that the 2011 payroll tax holiday, which shaves 2 % points off workers’ Social Security tax rates, undermines historical practices and distorts federal budget priorities as it diverts $130 billion from the general treasury into the Social Security trust fund.

"The tax holiday is the latest, and largest, of Social Security's raids on the general treasury. For example, the 2009 stimulus package provided an extra $250 benefit payment to Social Security recipients and billed the cost to the general treasury. And, the jobs bills adopted in March 2010 and November 2011 trimmed Social Security taxes for some employers and tapped the general treasury to make up the loss. Numerous small transfers from the general treasury have occurred over the years.

If we keep using general revenue to pay for Social Security, we should turn the program into just another line item in the budget and force it to compete with other programs for its share of budget resources. The best approach, though, is to halt the use of general revenue and return Social Security to its historical role as a self-supporting program."


Alan D. Viard previously served as a senior economist at the Dallas Fed. He has also worked for the White House's Council of Economic Advisors, the Joint Committee on Taxation in Congress, and the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Analysis. Viard can be reached at aviard@aei.org.

For help reaching any AEI scholars and for all other media requests, please contact Jesse Blumenthal at jesse.blumenthal@aei.org.

AEI's in-house ReadyCam TV studio may be booked by calling VideoLink at 617.340.4300. For radio interviews, please e-mail jesse.blumenthal@aei.org.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Alan D.
Viard
  • Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies federal tax and budget policy.

    Prior to joining AEI, Viard was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and an assistant professor of economics at Ohio State University. He has also been a visiting scholar at the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis, a senior economist at the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, and a staff economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress. While at AEI, Viard has also taught public finance at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Earlier in his career, Viard spent time in Japan as a visiting scholar at Osaka University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.

    A prolific writer, Viard is a frequent contributor to AEI’s “On the Margin” column in Tax Notes and was nominated for Tax Notes’s 2009 Tax Person of the Year. He has also testified before Congress, and his work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including Room for Debate in The New York Times, TheAtlantic.com, Bloomberg, NPR’s Planet Money, and The Hill. Viard is the coauthor of “Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X Tax Revisited” (2012) and “The Real Tax Burden: Beyond Dollars and Cents” (2011), and the editor of “Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000s” (2009).

    Viard received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics from Yale University. He also completed the first year of the J.D. program at the University of Chicago Law School, where he qualified for law review and was awarded the Joseph Henry Beale prize for legal research and writing.
  • Phone: 202-419-5202
    Email: aviard@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Regan Kuchan
    Phone: 202-862-5903
    Email: regan.kuchan@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image Dad and the diploma: The difference fathers make for college graduation
image A better way to finance that college degree
image Fracking for bigger budgets
image Earth Day: Hail fossil fuels, energy of the future
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.