By John Stark
It was only two percent. It was only $15 a week for someone who makes $40,000 a year. The federal payroll tax hike that kicked in at the start of 2013 was no big deal, according to government economists and media pundits.
But now, evidence to the contrary is trickling in.
Last week, Bloomberg News provided leaked emails from Walmart executives, expressing dismay at company-wide February sales figures. Now, the experts are revising their expectations about what may be in store for the economy. Here, Bloomberg provides additional analysis, noting that higher gasoline prices are hitting household budgets at the same time.
I suspect that the $15-a-week tax hike probably would not be a big deal, were it not for the fact that it comes on top of a lengthening list of higher costs for many people who make less than the median income. Gasoline is among the most obvious, since we see the painful prices displayed at every gas station. But it’s just the beginning.
Raise your hand if your medical coverage premiums went up at the beginning of the year.
Higher fuel prices plus drought are also helping to push food prices up.
In Bellingham, water and sewer bills took a big jump this year, and I doubt that this city is unique in that respect. Across the country, municipal utility systems need more money to expand to serve population growth, while also repairing and replacing pipes and pumps installed a generation or two ago.
State and local taxes are also rising in many places, wherever political forces will permit it.
College tuition continues its dizzying climb.
What am I missing?