Politics & Policy

Joe Sestak Cautioned Against Tax Increases on ‘the Rich’ Only 9 Months Ago

Joe Sestak has been hammering his opponent Pat Toomey — ahead in the polls by 8 points — as out of touch with Pennsylvanians, and as more loyal to Wall Street than Main Street.

And as part of this class warfare strategy, Sestak just last month slammed Toomey’s “failed ideology” on taxes and the economy, saying, among other things, that “Toomey is fighting to protect another $700 billion in tax cuts for the rich.”

These are the tax cuts for those earning more than $250,000 per year that were a part of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief program spearheaded by President Bush. They’re set to expire next year.

But it appears as if Joe Sestak supported those same tax cuts for the so-called wealthy — that “failed ideology” — only 9 months ago.

In an interview on the FOX Business Network, Sestak emphasized the need to maintain low tax rates “even on the rich” in order to resuscitate the economy:

Sestak: “President Roosevelt from 1933-1937 had driven unemployment during the depression from 27 percent to 9.5 percent. And then he raised taxes. A payroll tax, the first in our history, and a corporate tax.

“My caution is this: we need to get a pay-as-you-go government. But if you, even on the rich, all of a sudden, if we’re not out of this recession, begin to raise taxes in 2011, then you can have a very similar hindrance to our recovery.” [emphasis added]

So, today, Joe Sestak is against further tax cuts for the “rich,” despite saying only last December that “if we’re not out of this recession” you would have a “hindrance to our recovery.”

(As an aside, Sestak is off about unemployment in 1937 — the rate was closer to 15 percent than 9 percent.)

Does Sestak think we’re out of the recession? If he does, he would be consistent, at least, but not even the New York Times pretends this was “recovery summer.”

A few months ago, Sestak was again on Fox News and talked on tax cuts. He was asked directly, “Do you think it’s justified for any taxpayer to give more than 50 percent of their salary to the government?”

Sestak responded by saying, “If it was a perfect world, and we didn’t have to have a military, and we didn’t need roads, we probably wouldn’t even have to have taxes. But the point of fact is here, let’s be common sense about this.”

Sestak went on to promote tax credits and subsidies to small businesses.

Ironically, however, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts for earners over $250,000 would have a disproportionate impact on small businesses that fall under the “S corporation” designation in the tax code.

These are companies — small and privately held by nature — that are taxed at the personal rate, and as such would be hit with an attendant increase in tax obligations.

As late as January of this year, Sestak appears to have believed in the importance of tax relief across the board, regardless of income, in order to avoid a “hindrance to our recovery,” but today he’s reversed course and vilifies his own past policy prescription as the “failed ideology” of his Republican opponent.

What changed?

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