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Read His Lips: New Taxes

How will he soak thee? Let us count the ways.

Oct 17, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 05 • By FRED BARNES
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President Obama spent 75 excruciating minutes at a White House press conference last week touting his “jobs” bill and accusing Republicans in Congress of blocking an economic resurgence. He took questions from nine reporters and delivered long and tedious answers. Two days earlier, by the way, New Jersey governor Chris Christie got 42 questions (not including follow-ups) and gave terse replies during a 50-minute session in which he said he won’t be running for president in 2012. 

Photo of the press corps at an Obama news conference

Only an hour to go! The press corps listens to Obama on October 6.


From Obama, we learned his burning desire to raise taxes hasn’t cooled. He offered 11 reasons (by my count) why higher taxes would be beneficial. This must be some kind of record. He talked about tax hikes as if they were good for whatever ails the country or at least bothers him—Dr. Obama’s Magic Elixir.

It’s a potion that has no bad side effects. Higher taxes won’t stifle economic growth and job creation, according to Obama, despite empirical evidence to the contrary. If Obama is for a bigger tax bite, who can be against it? Answer: Only Republicans who put “party over country.”

Raising taxes equals deficit reduction in Obama’s perfect world. And if taxes aren’t hiked, “millionaires and billionaires .  .  . have lower tax rates in some cases than plumbers and teachers.” But if taxes are increased, “we can put teachers and construction workers and veterans back on the job.” That’s three reasons right there.

Obama favors “what we call the Buffett rule, which is that millionaires and billionaires aren’t paying lower tax rates than ordinary families.” Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has been thrilling liberals for years by claiming the wealthy should be paying more in taxes. Thus the current version of the jobs bill would slap a 5.6 percent surtax on anyone making $1 million or more.

But let’s move on. Higher taxes would not only “pay for the jobs bill,” but attaching them to the measure would improve its chances of passage. The new taxes would be a step toward “making our tax system fair and just and promoting growth.” Yes, the president actually suggested his tax hike would stimulate the economy. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he means it achieves this indirectly. Higher taxes would also be “a balanced approach to deficit reduction”—that is, a mixture of spending cuts and taxes.

Not only that, but an increase in taxes would answer the Republican charge that “we can’t afford” the jobs bill. “Well, we can afford it if we’re willing to ask people like me to do a little bit more in taxes,” Obama said.

Besides, it’s either keeping the current tax rates “for folks who don’t need them and weren’t asking for them” or reducing the payroll tax “for virtually every worker and small business in America,” according to Obama. “But we can’t afford to do both.”

Obama justifies tax increases in inventive ways. In his speeches, he talks about “a thread running through our history.” It’s a belief that “we’re all connected, that I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper, that there are some things that we can only do together as a nation.” Presidents Lincoln and Eisenhower “invested in railways and highways and science and technology.”

More to the point, “this country” gave veterans “the chance to go to college on the GI Bill,” and it “made an investment” in him and first lady Michelle Obama. Now there are other talented students who need help. “Are we going to be there for them?” he asked at a Dallas campaign fundraiser last week. “It’s time for us to meet those responsibilities right now.”

The president wasn’t talking about charitable contributions to colleges or gifts to individual students. He put “investing” in students in the same category as the military and fire and police protection, things that only government provides. He was justifying higher taxes.

For Obama, “fair” is a code word for raising taxes. He wants “an America where everybody gets a fair shake and everybody does their fair share.” This, in Obama’s words, is “an America where we’re thinking about how we can get ahead and how we can move forward, but also how the guy next to us, or the gal over here, can also succeed. Because we have confidence that if all of us are pulling in the same direction, then all of us are going to do better.”

Another of Obama’s code words for higher taxes: sacrifice. “Dealing with our deficit in an effective way,” he told Ann Curry of NBC News last summer, requires that “everybody makes some sacrifices.” But not “sacrifices in programs that the vast majority of the American people think are really important.” Never that.

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