While the recent fiscal cliff deal may have appeared somewhat progressive on its face (marginal tax rates did increase on individuals who make $400,000 annually after all), there was a side to the negotiations our esteemed members of Congress probably aren’t as excited to talk about.
Both parties agreed to allow the payroll tax holiday to expire, which translates to a tax increase for 77% of American households that disproportionately falls on middle- and low-income earners. If nothing else, one could say this tax increase will help generate some much needed revenue: about $95 billion in 2013 by some estimates. Unfortunately, Congress also decided to give $68 billion of that away in the form of corporate subsidies for industries from NASCAR to Wall Street in the very same fiscal cliff deal that allowed the payroll tax holiday to expire in the first place. The middle class should probably consider investing in a lobbyist or two.