During President Obama’s “townhall” event on healthcare reform today, the pesky subject of taxing employer-based benefits again reared its head. It’s a policy proposal for which Obama savaged John McCain during the campaign. As Jim Geraghty reminds us in “Barack Obama is a Big Fat Liar,” Team Obama spent $44 million on more than a dozen ads specifically denouncing McCain’s supposedly reckless idea in the fall. But now the White House — desperate for revenue — seems to be changing its tune:
In early October [Obama] went even further, calling McCain’s plan “so radical, so out of touch with what you’re facing, and so out of line with our basic values.”
On Capitol Hill, however, Democrats have long liked the idea as a new form of tax revenue. Obama’s relentless denunciation of the proposal would seem to preclude his signing it into law, but “would seem to” is not “does.” Back in March, White House budget director Peter Orszag said taxing employer benefits was among several ideas that “most firmly should remain on the table,” and some congressional Democrats told the Washington Post that White House officials said Obama would accept such a tax “as long as he didn’t have to propose it himself.”
I went back and found a number of the ads Obama ran against McCain on this front. The impending expiration of this particular campaign promise is especially galling when one actually views the ads themselves — bearing in mind that the risky, out-of-touch, unaffordable, deal-breaking healthcare policies these ads ruthlessly targeted are now on the brink of being embraced by their one-time chief critic. Marvel:
This last one’s especially laughable in light of this story.
Finally, for good measure, here’s top Obama strategist David Axelrod explaining on Sunday why “formulations” may force his boss to, well, change his mind.