Here we go again Call me suspicious, but ever since President Barack Obama was Sen. Barack Obama running for the Democratic presidential nomination, I had a hard time believing he was not going to raise taxes on those save high-earners making more than $250,000.00. That, while he made several proposals for new programs, including health care reform, and an expensive antidote to the recession.
In all my years covering Washington politics, I’ve yet to witness a program come in at or under budget. I’ve yet to witness a situation in which some federal benefit cost less or even equal to what its supporters predicted it would cost. That’s why in one sense I envy supporters of President Obama’s health care reform effort who believe it won’t raise everyone’s taxes. These supporters have harnessed a belief in hope over reality that is nothing short of stunning in its ability to delude.
We finally caught wind of the pending higher taxes everyone will surely pay this past weekend, when two off-message, honest members of the Obama regime actually hinted at the truth, as reported by the Associated Press: "Two of President Barack Obama’s economic heavyweights said middle-class taxes might have to go up to pare budget deficits or to pay for the proposed overhaul of the nation’s health care system…Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers …both sidestepped questions on Obama’s intentions about taxes. Geithner said the White House was not ready to rule out a tax hike to reduce the federal deficit; Summers said Obama’s proposed health care overhaul needs funding from somewhere."
On Monday White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied a tax hike is pending. But I, like so many other Americans, find the denial implausible. Now Democrats find themselves once again in the untenable position of having their party leader break a pledge not to tax the middle class. The last time this happened on a large scale candidate Ronald Reagan coined the term, "tax and spend Democrats" and the GOP used that phrase in campaigns that beat Democrats for a long time.
The best way to reasonably assess all Americans for the expenses of health care reform and recession busting is to enact a flat income tax. Then upper-income persons necessarily pay more in taxes, as 10 percent of $100,000 is a lot more than 10 percent of $20,000. But that’ll never happen, so tax-hungry Democrats are instead choosing the route of class wars and alienating middle- and even lower middle-income taxpayers who feel pinched by high taxes.
"Wealthy" is a matter of a whole lore more than just annual income. Geography, cost of living, savings, the size of one’s investment portfolio (if one exists) and family size all play into whether one categorizes oneself or someone else as "rich." So, for that matter, does one’s own perspective. A retiree living on Social Security’s $20,000 or so in annual income in New York City sees someone working 80 hours per week on Wall Street and earning $200,000 as "wealthy." But if that person is married and supporting two children and a spouse, then they are hardly rich after paying close to 60 percent in federal, state, and city taxes and trying to support a family of four on $80,000.
The best thing President Obama has going for him in terms of reelection is the disarray of the GOP. But if he cannot stall a middle class tax cut until after 2012 (and I do not believe he can) even a weak GOP opponent will have a strong case to make to the American public against him. That claim will be, Democrats cannot be trusted to keep taxes at reasonable levels for middle-income Americans.
(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)CompuServe.com.)