What a difference a “t” makes.
Last week, Hillary Clinton was thought to have told voters in Omaha, “I’m telling you right now, we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class, and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class.”
However, PolitiFact subjected the Democrat nominee’s words to forensic scrutiny worthy of the Watergate tapes. Linguistics professors at the University of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conducted soundwave analyses for PolitiFact. These tests proved that Clinton said, “ . . . we aren’t going to raise taxes on the middle class.” (Emphasis added.) However, she pronounced the “t” almost inaudibly, leading to several days of erroneous accusations and subsequent apologies for these unwittingly inaccurate reports and op-ed pieces, mine among them.
This particular story was wrong. However, as the campus Left might say, it nonetheless highlighted a broader truth.
An eventually inoperative story about Clinton’s envisioning a middle-class tax hike endured for days because she, her running mate, and the man she hopes to succeed all have advocated or enacted middle-class tax hikes — even as America is mired in the economic doldrums.
There is never a good time to raise taxes on the middle class, but now is especially bad. America’s economy grew at just 1 percent for the first half of 2016. President Obama’s recovery is the worst since 1949, according to the Wall Street Journal. Today’s barely measurable expansion is the weakest in 67 years.
Real median household incomes have slipped under Obama, from $54,925 when he was inaugurated in January 2009 to $53,657 in 2014. The latest Census Bureau data confirm this 2.3 percent slide.
This situation is so dire that life expectancy has fallen among white women, from 81.2 years to 81.1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why this abnormal decline? One theory is that — starved for hope and opportunity in a moribund economy — some white females have surrendered to alcohol, drugs, and suicide.
Clinton has said she would not boost taxes on anyone earning less than $250,000. But when ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos asked her last December, “Is that a rock-solid promise?” Clinton balked. “Well,” she said, “it certainly is my goal.”
Indeed, Clinton has proposed or embraced several new middle-class taxes:
Clinton has favored a 25 percent national sales tax on guns since 1993.
Asked in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 11 if she would veto a payroll-tax hike on every American, Clinton replied: “No, no.”
Clinton told Philadelphia voters in April, “I’m very supportive of the mayor’s proposal to tax soda to get universal preschool for kids.”
“Frankly,” Senator Bernie Sanders responded, “I am very surprised that Secretary Clinton would support this regressive tax after pledging not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000.”
Clinton also is open to a tax on carbon dioxide, which would boost price tags across the economy and asphyxiate employment prospects for those looking for work and hoping to keep their jobs.
“Right now we’ve not proposed a carbon tax,” Clinton campaign chief John Podesta told journalists on July 26. “But if Congress wants to come forward with one, we’ll take a look at it.”
Meanwhile, Democrat vice-presidential nominee Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia wanted to take things even further. As governor, High-Tax Tim advocated higher levies on those who aspired to the middle class. He sought to increase his state’s bottom tax rate from 5.75 percent to 6.75 percent. This would have socked families with annual incomes as low as $17,000. Kaine also fought for a 60-cent-per-pack jump in the state cigarette tax and a 2 percent bump in distilled-spirit prices among Virginia’s government-monopoly liquor stores.
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Mercifully, Republican legislators killed Kaine’s tax-hike proposals.
Clinton-Kaine’s support for middle-class tax hikes would resemble such tax increases under Obama.
Obama told a joint session of Congress in February 2009, “If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: Not one single dime.”
Obama’s promise proved to be yet another lie.“There are seven tax increases in Obamacare that are in violation of his pledge,” recalls John Kartch of Americans for Tax Reform. These include “the individual mandate non-compliance tax; an income-tax hike on those with high medical bills; tax hikes on flexible-spending accounts and health savings accounts; and even a 10 percent ‘indoor tanning tax.’”
Also, when Obama hiked cigarette taxes in April 2009, an Associated Press story declared: “Obama Tax Pledge Up in Smoke.”
Bottom line: Democrats love tax revenue more than they love the middle class.
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online.