Hooray, America pulled back from fiscal cliff! That's great news, right? It might be, if you are President Obama, but the news is certainly more mixed for the working Americans whose paychecks fund D.C.'s continued spending.
We normally think of "Tax Day" as April 15, but this week will also hold special tax relevance as it marks the time millions of employees will receive their biweekly paychecks for 2013. That means it is the first time they are seeing more money held back. And it's not just the rich-virtually everyone who pays into the Social Security system will see their checks impacted by an end to the payroll tax "holiday."
And working people are noticing.
"As a newly-graduated person, someone coming straight out of college, I don't like the idea of having less money coming to me due to the selfish interests of people in Congress who don't have any interest in reducing our financial problems," said one young Virginian this week.
Fox News reported the trend goes well beyond that poor soul: "On Twitter, #WhyIsMyPaycheckLessThisWeek has been a trending topic as most U.S. workers have either already seen less green or are preparing to do so."
I've seen the same questions from our employees, who typically ask "Did I get pay cut" or, more simply, "what's going on?"
The answer is simple and to-the-point: D.C.'s spending too much so taxes have to go up one way or another. It just so happened the burden will be felt, a lot, by the middle class and working poor.
The practical effect, however, will go beyond those groups-as there is less money in paychecks, there is less left for groceries, gas, electric bills, childcare, cable, and more. Heck, some folks might even find it nice to be able to sock away some of their own money for retirement, their kids' education or to start a new business (whether starting a business is worth it in this economy is another story entirely).
Perhaps the worst part of this sordid affair is what Americans will get in exchange for their paycheck pain-no gain! Washington is raising taxes to simply make up a huge deficit, rather than making new investments that could lead to a healthier economy. It would be difficult to come up with a more irresponsible plan if one tried.
This week, be sure to open your pay stub and study it carefully. Reflect on what value you're getting for the money you are working so hard to earn and which is so easily spent by an irresponsible president and those who support him.
Brett McMahon is president of Miller and Long DC and spokesman for the Halt The Assault campaign