The extra cash New Yorkers would take home under the proposed payroll tax cut will be gone before you can even daydream about how to spend it.
Price hikes for things like MetroCards and health care premiums will eat up the $67 to $178 a month you'll get from a one-year, 2-percentage-point reduction in the Social Security taxes you pay.
A couple who each earn $40,000 a year will get $800 apiece from the payroll tax cut - a combined $133 a month to spend on themselves and their two kids.
But the basics will cost them $200-plus more a month in the coming year. Here's the breakdown:
Health premiums: $100
# Canale's seeing 20% hikes in premiums for employer-provided health coverage, with workers paying part of the increase.
One spouse with the two kids on his health plan could pay $50 a month more if his employer is generous in helping cover the premium increase. The other spouse could pay $50 more for health coverage she gets through work.
# If husband and wife both use monthly MetroCards to commute to work, they'll fork over $15 more apiece. The card's price is rising about 17%, to $104.
# If they live in a rent-stabilized apartment, as many Queens families do, their $1,200-a-month rent will increase about 2.25% for a one-year lease, Arthur Chiaramonte of Capital Appraisal Services said.
City parking meter fees go up 25 cents an hour next year, said Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for AAA New York. Using parking meters after work and on Saturdays could cost $8 more a month. The couple might pay $8 a month more for occasional use of Metropolitan Transportation Authority-controlled bridges and tunnels; tolls increase $1 for cash-paying customers.
It's impossible to predict how much gas prices could rise, but a new federal tax will start at 5cents a gallon, Sinclair said. If the couple buys a weekly tank of gas, that's an extra $3 a month.
This doesn't count new surcharges of $50 if they renew their car registration or $16 apiece to renew their driver's licenses - or a $235 fine if theydisobey a new law requiring drivers to get out of the wayof police cars, fire trucks and ambulances.
# More and more, kid-friendly movies are 3-D, and theaters charge $2 extra a ticket, Canale said. That's a $16 increase if the family goes to the movies just twice a month - and doesn't up the size of its popcorn tubs.
Food shopping: $15
The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts a 2% to 3% annual hike in food prices for 2011, which will affect the $500 a month the family spends on food shopping, Canale said.
Con Ed: $6
# The family's $150 monthly bill will be hit with a 4% annual rate hike in April - part of a three-year package of increases the state Public Service Commission okayed last spring.
Yet the NY Times says Obama will enjoy a big political lift from the tax cuts aimed at middle class people (never mind that a family making less than $40,000 and an individual making less than $20,000 will actually see a tax INCREASE.)
But I doubt Obama gets a political lift from these temporary cuts.
With everything else going up, with unemployment at 9.8%, long-term unemployment even higher and corporations enjoying their most profitable quarter ever even as they continue to cut costs, outsource jobs and do everything they can to NOT hire Americans, economic times are too scary for a few extra dollars a month for a year to mean much to most people.