Niagara Gazette

Opinion

January 3, 2013

EDITORIAL: Lawmakers: This is no time for raises

Niagara Gazette — Millions of working Americans will open their paychecks this week and find less of what they need most: Money.

Although federal lawmakers were able to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff," Congress allowed the Social Security payroll tax to increase for roughly three-quarters of American workers, meaning they will notice an increase in the payroll tax from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent starting today.

A couple of percentage points doesn't seem like much, but in a weak economy where the price of everyday goods like food and gasoline seem to eat up every spare dollar, a few bucks per week adds up to hundreds of dollars per year and makes a big difference.

Most Americans will adjust, as they always have. Many have said they can accept higher taxes for the greater good, especially when that good involves Social Security.

The question here isn't them. 

The question here relates to Congress, state lawmakers in New York and all elected leaders across the country.

Are they capable of doing what's necessary? Can they sacrifice their needs for the greater good?

Unfortunately, we still wonder. 

While average, working-class people are making do with less time and again, they're not seeing the same level of commitment on their behalf in the hallowed halls of government in places like Washington, D.C. and Albany.

And now in the state's capital there continue to be whispers about a possible pay hike for lawmakers.

This can't happen. 

Not now. Under current circumstances, it is, in a word, unacceptable.

Beyond the dollar-here, dollar-there decreases in pay most Americans will begin noticing today, there are all those New Yorkers downstate still trying to figure out how to rebuild from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.

New York State has a huge added expense as it heads into 2013 and federal lawmakers are now haggling over a $60 billion — that's billion with a b — aid package for Sandy victims here and in neighboring states.

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