The Corner

Taxes and a Grain of Salt

President Obama is headed to the East Room of the White House today to call on Congress to raise taxes. 

His call for a tax increase on those making more than $250, 000 — “millionaires” and “rich people” in the parlance of progressives — will be cleverly disguised as an appeal for lower taxes. But the facts are the facts: Compared to current levels of taxation, he will call on Congress raise taxes. 

Why would he do such thing?

It could be poor staff work. Perhaps he is unaware that the economy is struggling and that no reputable economic research supports the idea that raising taxes is good policy. It might be time for a briefing on the fact that job growth is averaging 75,000 a month in the past quarter, nearly 15 percent of American workers are underemployed, and growth in real disposable income has been minuscule in the Obama “recovery.”

Or, it could be that he is unaware that he is calling for heavier taxes on small businesses across the economy. His own Treasury has the information showing that 53 percent of small-business income reported by sole-proprietorships, partnerships, and other “pass-through” businesses is taxed in the top two brackets. If he knew, surely he would not want to attack this engine of economic prosperity.

Another possibility is that he does know, but his legendary budgetary tight-fistedness has left the White House without a single tax lawyer who could draft such a law and send it to the Congress. Too bad, because I’m sure he wants to own this policy and do the tough legislative outreach to get it enacted. It is not his style to just give speeches and then blame Congress for not delivering his every wish.

Finally, I’ve heard some say it’s pure politics. Surely not! Would the president really seek to get elected by blaming the woes of the middle class on successful Americans and cynically proposing punishing policies knowing that his saner congressional Democrats will never let it actually happen? Why would he not simply run on his economic record, proudly tout his health-care reform (on that, it must be a video-editing error that kept it out of his two weekly addresses since the Supreme Court decision), and argue the merits of all those specifics he’s promised for his second term.

I guess I’m slow, but I don’t understand. It’s just another puzzling day in Obama’s Washington.


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