December 9, 2004 – the preznit resolutely outlines a core principle regarding Social Security:
THE PRESIDENT: We will not raise payroll taxes to solve this problem.
Later that day, Little Scottie reiterates the preznits tough stance.
Q So the President says that he will not prejudge any solution, but then he rules out a tax increase. Isn’t that prejudging a solution?
MR. McCLELLAN: Actually, that’s one of the principles that the President outlined as part of our efforts to move forward to solve this problem. There are a lot of members of Congress who are committed to strengthening Social Security for future generations. And the President wants to work closely with them in a bipartisan way to get this done in his second term. And the President met with some of those leaders earlier this week. There are, obviously, different ideas, but the President believes there are some important principles that ought to guide us as we move forward. And that was one of them, as well as, no change for retirees or those at or near retirement.
Q So that’s a principle, not a prejudgment.
MR. McCLELLAN: That’s one of his principles, but he’s made it very clear that he does not believe we should raise payroll taxes; that was something he campaigned on during the campaign, it was one of the issues that was discussed at length. And the American people spoke very clearly in support of his approach to strengthening Social Security.
<December 19, 2005 – Reality intrudes in the form of Treasury Secretary John Snow and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card.
Two of President Bush’s top advisers refused on Sunday to rule out the possibility that wealthy people might have to pay more to help cover the cost of his move to partially privatize Social Security.
Neither Treasury Secretary John Snow nor Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, would say whether Bush’s ideas about overhauling the federal retirement program would include raising the limit on incomes subject to Social Security taxes.
People currently pay those taxes on income up to $87,900. That level will climb to $90,000 next year. One proposal to help compensate for the private accounts would raise or eliminate the tax cutoff, which would mean that wealthier people would pay more.
Yes, Virginia, raising the ceiling on the payroll tax is indeed a tax increase.