A Senior Moment



If you're a senior citizen and make less than $50,000 a year,
Barack Obama has a deal for you: the rest of your life free of federal
income tax.

Sounds appealing, right?

If we look at two people, each making $49,999, which one should get a sizeable government subsidy?

Why, the one who's already living off of welfare, and has
taxpayer supplied healthcare, subsidized transportation, "senior
centers", discounted meals at restaurants, etc., of course!


  1. dave smith:

    Another really dumb thing about this is that article says the Obama camp wants to help seniors who are battling inflation on a fixed income.

    SS gives COLAs, so Srs are not on fixed incomes.

  2. Careful:

    Well, don't forget, tax "breaks" aren't subsidies. In such a situation, the tax collection agency extracts less of your wealth from you than it extracts from others. It's not as if you are given wealth that you didn't have before.

    "Subsidy (also known as a subvention): a form of financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector."

    Only if you believe that the amount of your wealth that the tax collection agency collects from you ALREADY BELONGS to that agency (and they're just collecting what is already theirs, and maybe the agency will be nice and give the wealth to you, instead of keeping what rightfully belongs to it), can you call such abstention from collection a "subsidy".

  3. Stephen Macklin:

    It's really very simple. There are a lot of seniors - and it's a growing population - and they vote.

  4. Dr. T:

    This plan is the usual Obama bullshit: little substance, lots of hype. Many seniors who saved no money and had no pension live on Social Security alone. In this circumstance, Social Security income is not taxed. Those who get a job to supplement Social Security already get a tax break: wages have to rise above a certain amount per year to be taxable. Once that threshold is reached, income taxes are levied, but only half the Social Security income gets taxed.

    The reality is that only a small fraction of seniors would realize any benefit from this plan. Of course, as Mr. Meyer noted, seniors are the least needy group in the country, but that never stopped a politician from buying their votes.

  5. Rick Caird:

    Dr. T is misinformed. There is no tax break at all for those on Social Security who also have earned income. There is, however, a maximum you can earn (around $13,500 / year) before your Social Security is docked $1 for every $2 earned. That makes the marginal rate 50% plus the normal tax rates. I believe the maximum disappears, though, once you reach 70.


  6. Brad Warbiany:

    I've heard (and personally furthered) many reasons why voting is a pointless and useless enterprise.

    But perhaps I've been mistaken. If 20-somethings voted at the same rate as 60-somethings, maybe we'd* get a bunch more fruits of theft free stuff from the government!

    * Slight slip there, as of July 25, I'm no longer a 20-something, now a 30-something. Damn time!

  7. Dan:

    Similar BS is taking place here in Chicago, where our esteemed governor Rod Blagoevich recently pushed through legislation that makes public transportation free for seniors. I know many seniors who are millionaires and now don't have to pay to take the bus, while working-class people all over the city still have to cough up $2 a ride. Obviously an attempt to win senior votes, but at least some of the seniors I know are seeing through it and recognize it for the hypocrisy it is. I'm ashamed to hear Obama is doing any similar catering for votes.

  8. John Dewey:

    Rick Caird: "I believe the maximum disappears, though, once you reach 70."

    I think the law was changed a few years ago. There is no longer a maximum for social security recipients once they reach full retirement age. Full retirement age is 65 for those born before 1943, a year or two later for those born after that. Social security benefits are docked as you noted for those between the ages of 62 and full retirement age.

    This penalty applies only to wages and self-employment income. According to the IRS website:

    "We do not count income such as other government benefits, investment earnings, interest, pensions, annuities and capital gains."

    As you point out, though, all social security recipients do pay taxes on their earned income. In addition, 50% to 85% of social security income is taxed as ordinary income for those who have total worldwide income above a minimum level. For married couples filing jointly, that minimum level is a mere $32,000, including social security benefits.