By Max Berley
There was something for everyone in the much-anticipated jobs plan that President Barack Obama laid out to Congress tonight. Its centerpiece is a proposed reduction of the payroll tax to 3.1 percent. That's a 50 percent cut for companies, which currently pay a 6.2 percent rate. It's a little less of a boost for employees, whose rate had already been slashed to 4.2 percent in the stimulus package passed in December.
That provision, though, only would apply to the first $5 million in payroll, squarely aimed at the small businesses that both Democrats and Republicans tout as the vibrant heart of the U.S. economy. That may be why the president devoted much less time to explaining a proposal that could prove enticing to a larger swath of the business community -- and the voting public. He is also calling for the elimination of the payroll tax for companies that add workers or increase the wages of those they already have, with a cap on the first $50 million of new spending. Note to CEOs: Giving yourself a $50 million bonus probably won't be allowed.
(Max Berley is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board.)